The journey to the Big Leagues often begins far away from the Big Apple.
For the thirteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the Short Season 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 on WFUV's Life in the Minors, Mike Pawell and Tara Sledjeski discuss the routes the players took to get to New York and begin their quest for the majors. Hear Life in the Minors every week on WFUV's One on One, Saturday's at 2:50pm.
The Staten Island Yankees with Michael Pawell:
For ballplayers and fans alike spring signifies the beginning of baseball. Now with the end of June rapidly approaching the competition is beginning to ratchet up, and it begins to set in just how important every pitch and at bat really is.
The Staten Island Yankees, and every other minor leaguer trying to work his way up to the Major Leagues feels this pressure to perform; however it isn’t the only pressure they are under. These young men anywhere from 20 to 26 years of age are away from their families, traveling back and forth to 76 games in a mere 80 days, and in some cases are very far from home.
The Baby Bombers are comprised of players from all over including; Texas, California, North Carolina, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Dominican Republic. Some of these players include centerfielder Brandon Thomas from Atlanta, Georgia, and second baseman Derek Toadvine from Springfield, Ohio.
When they tie up their cleats and put on their caps and run onto that field they become ballplayers, but once back in the clubhouse; they’re just a regular bunch of guys. Guys that grew up cheering for major leaguers they hope to play with one day, guys who have families that have been there to help them get to where they are, and guys who have left their marks on campuses and fields all around the world.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Tara Sledjeski
Summer is still in its early stages in 2013, and so is the New York-Penn League baseball season. As members of the Brooklyn Cyclones take the field for an intense summer of baseball while getting adjusted to professional baseball on the biggest stage possible, it may be hard to forget that, for some of the players, this is just the latest stop in their journeys to the big leagues. For many players, they have been working hard to get to the short season Single A level since they were first old enough to pick up a bat and ball.
For some, the journey started far away from New York City with Cyclone players coming from Louisiana, Oklahoma and California just to name a few places. For others, they have been playing ball in the city their whole lives. Take second baseman LJ Mazzilli for one. Mazzilli, the son of former Met Lee Mazzilli, played ball all around the city growing up before playing college ball at the University of Connecticut, not straying too far from home.
The journey to playing baseball in New York City also consisted of playing other sports for some players. First baseman Matt Oberste played three sports in high school and ultimately had to decide if he would pursue a career in baseball or football when he was heading to college. Oberste of course chose baseball and it is beginning to pay off for him as he now gets a chance to play for his favorite franchise growing up. Oberste was even inspired by Mets’ captain David Wright, having worn his number 5 on his travel teams growing up.
These Mini Mets still have a ways to go before they reach their ultimate goal of playing at Citi Field, however at this point they can still look back on their journeys here to this point and say they have accomplished a lot.