Life in the Minors: Chapter 5 - Life Outside the Ballpark
For the fourteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the New York Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
This week, Christian Goewey and Brendan Bowers talk about these players' lives outside of their playing time.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Christian Goewey:
Brooklyn has been struggling after a hot start and is now an underwhelming 15-19. However, there is over a month to go for the players to figure themselves out and the Cyclones to get back on track. Life outside of the game itself is something these players are still getting used to. With such a packed schedule and constant travel, these young men are becoming familiar with having to eat and sleep on the fly.
Tucker Tharp, a rookie out of Kansas, plays centerfield for the Cyclones. Tharp walked on as a Jayhawk and eventually was named a captain. That leadership and maturity of being a captain has translated into his professionalism in the minors. The 30th round pick of the Mets realizes that this is a job and all the things that come with it such as eating on the run or staying in hotels with people he’s never known before is just part of it. Although, he realizes he has to go with the flow and work hard, Tharp is enjoying the experience.
As for rookie catcher Tyler Moore, the bright lights of the Big Apple are quite different than where he grew up. From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Moore played an integral role as a starter on the LSU Tigers. Having friends from a similar background has helped Moore appreciate the city he was drafted to and enjoy it, as well.
First year pro from the College of William and Mary, Michael Katz has had a difficult time finding the right meals with such little time. However, the rookie Cyclones outfielder does know the key to getting through such a rigorous season; the proper attitude. By taking the process slowly and positively, Katz should eventually be comfortable with the lifestyle of a pro.
The Staten Island Yankees with Brendan Bowers:
When most people think about professional baseball players, they think of millionaires who live in expensive apartments, drive nice cars, and travel as a team on private planes. While that might be so in the major leagues, things are different in the minors. Life outside the stadium for the players of the Staten Island Yankees consists of living in ordinary hotels and riding in team buses to and from games.
Mario Garza, the manager for the Staten Island Yankees, states that the New York Penn League treats the players very well by providing the team with nice hotels to stay at both at home and on the road. He then goes on to say that the league does a good job with providing the players quality meals in the clubhouse before the game and after. Garza believes that with the meals provided by the league, it is easy for players to maintain a healthy diet which is key when trying to better one’s game and advance in the organizational ladder.
Drafted in the second round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Argyle High School in Argyle, Texas, Staten Island outfielder Austin Aune believes that life in the minor leagues is hard. He believes that a key to succeeding in the minors is being able to adjust to the city you are playing in. Aune is doing well at the plate as of late, hitting safely in his last 6 games and going 10 for 25 during that span with 5 doubles, one home run, and 3 RBI’s. This brings his season batting average up to .282.
One of the most important things these players have to make sure to do is to eat well in order to perform well on the field. When asked about food, rookie and 26th round pick out of Washington State, Collin Slaybaugh, said that the key is to eat whatever you can, whenever you can. He says that the team goes out to the diners after games, and there are several places around the stadium to grab a good bite to eat. Unfortunately, despite eating well, Collin Slaybaugh is struggling so far this season, only batting .148 through his first nine games played.
If the players on the Staten Island Yankees want to make it to the big show some day, they will have to handle the hardships of minor league life. The dream of one day flying on a team plane from game to game and staying in 5 star hotels in big cities will keep these players striving to become better baseball players in the hopes of these dreams one day becoming a reality.