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I figured that I was due for a Day in the Life post but with Major League Baseball’s playoffs in full swing I thought it would be fitting to do a post from my former life as a Minor League Baseball player. I played for two seasons and the following would be a typical day for a home game in which I pitched.

11:00 pm (previous night): Resolve to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
11:05 pm (previous night): Can’t sleep, turn on Xbox. Play FIFA (or go to the bar)
3:30 am: Pass out.
10:00 am: Alarm goes off, I had set it this early in order to get up and make myself breakfast. Nuke alarm.
11:00 am: Drop dead alarm goes off. Today we have a team lift at a gym by the field. At the upper levels there are strength training facilities at the stadium but in A-ball there aren’t so we have bi-weekly workouts at a local gym amongst the soccer moms. I lost the host family lottery and am about a 20 minute drive from the field so this is the latest I can wake up and still make the lift on time.

11:30 am-12:00 pm: “Lift weights”. I put this in quotes because the strength program is not the most strenuous. There are actual limits to how much weight you can lift. I was a pitcher and for upper body movements like DB bench or rows, I could not use more than 45 lbs. Our strength coach would periodically follow you around and comment on your form “way to crush those forearm curls bro! That’s key for velocity”. They aren’t.
12:00 pm-1:30 pm: This is awkward time for me since I live so far from the field. We would have pitcher stretch at 2:30 pm for a 6:00 pm start so it's not enough time for me to go home since I have a 40 minute roundtrip commute to my house. Normally I’d head over to the Bob Evans and have breakfast and watch Netflix on my phone. I’d also have to change out of my team issued workout gear because you would get fined if you wore your gear outside the park. I only made $1,100 dollars per month pre-tax and pre-clubhouse dues so those fines hurt.
1:30 pm-2:30 pm: Arrive at the field. Get changed back into my workout gear and throw a heating pack on my shoulder to warm up before I get stretched by the trainer. This probably doesn’t do anything but it kills 20 minutes so I made it part of my daily routine. Also I take my first two Aleve of the day.
2:30 pm-3:30 pm: Pitchers would head out to stretch and throw. Depending on who your catch partner was it could be the worst part of your day. My first day with the team I threw with the one guy who didn’t have a partner. After he hit threw his first toss to me at 97 mph from 45 feet away I resolved to find the slowest throwing pitcher and make him my partner. I found a soft-tossing lefty and it was bliss. We would also work on team defense during this period. Bunt plays were pretty hilarious because we’d practice them all week and then completely screw it up in the game. There’s an inverse relationship between practice time and execution on bunts, I’m convinced if you never practiced bunt defense you’d never mess it up in the game.
3:30 pm-4:30 pm: Home team batting practice. This was generally pretty miserable. We stood in the hot sun and shagged fly balls. Sometimes you’d play games where you’d see who could get the most points (3 for a fly ball, 2 for a 1 hop, 1 for a groundball) but that often took too much effort. We would also do our running during this time. There were 6 days a week of running, Sunday Funday was a no-run day. This would be running for time, or poles, or sprints. To me this didn’t make sense because we weren’t running the ball across the plate but it gave our strength coach something to do.
4:30 pm-5:30 pm: Visitor batting practice. We would come into the clubhouse and eat from our pre-game spread (normally cold cuts or PBJ. You eat them so often that since my last game I have not eaten a PBJ). You could also listen to music or watch a movie but most guys played cards. The game of choice was Two’s which is sort of like hearts except for dumber people. I would also take two more Aleve.
5:30 pm-6:00 pm: Pitchers would head out to the bullpen while our starter warms up. This was a great time to scout the stands for hot girls. I’m sure most people have heard of the ball trick where you write your phone number on a game ball and toss it to a girl in the stands? It works.
6:00 pm-7:45 pm: Early innings of the game. I would generally pitch in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th innings so in the early part of the game I would not know the score or the inning. I really didn’t pay attention at all. We’d play the name game or the cities game or dig a hole (seriously, we dug a huge hole in the bullpen and buried a bunch of baseballs, I’m convinced some of my teammates thought a tree would grow from them). Around the 6th I’d go take another 4 to 8 Aleve depending on how my arm felt, and drink a 5-hour energy. Also I’d have a cup of coffee every 2-3 innings. Your arm hurts constantly during the season so the key is to find the balance of pain relievers and energy drinks that allows your arm to feel numb but doesn’t make your eyeballs jitter. It’s a delicate balance.
8:00 pm: Think, "man my arm is killing me, I really hope I don't get in the game tonight."
8:15 pm: Be really upset that I wasn’t getting into the game.
8:16 pm: Get the call to warm up. Depending on the situation this means you’d generally have between 1 minute and a half hour to get ready. I once went into a game where I had thrown 6 throws. Not warm up pitches, throws period. Thank god for coffee.
8:24 pm: Watch the manager go out to the mound and take the ball from our starter. At this point I would feel sheer terror. “Why do I do this to myself? What if I walk everyone? What if a guy hits a line drive off my face? That’d be super embarrassing. I really hope they don’t mess up my intro song because I look badass warming up to it.”
8:30 pm: Finish the inning and get the sign from the manager that I’m done for the night. I would have thrown between 5 and 20 pitches. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
9:30 pm-10:30 pm: Game finishes and head to the clubhouse. On the way sign some autographs that devalue whatever I signed them on. I’d then do our post-throwing shoulder circuit which involved doing various exercises with 3 lb weights. My rotator cuff was jacked. Then you’d eat from the post-game spread which was often pasta and a salad. Only the best in A-ball!
11:00 pm: Head home and resolve to get a good night’s sleep.

9

Comments (38)

  • Tychee's picture

    Hahaha i love how you bring it full circle. great write.
    You're a funny guy.

    If we blame others for our failure then we should also give them credit for our successes.

  • Cruncharoo's picture

    Great post, I'll try to do one for minor pro hockey and throw it in this same thread (if you don't mind). There's actually probably way less to it. The fact that you didn't know the inning or score is something I can relate to. I was out with a concussion for about 1.5 months while in the minors but still obviously required to attend games (bright lights, loud goal horns and fans, perfect recipe for curing a concussion), I would show up somewhere between the 1st and 2nd period, play brickbreaker on my phone until it was time to leave and sometimes not see a single goal. How quickly we become disengaged from the sport we loved.

    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • onemanwolfpack's picture

    In general, what percentage of the guys have an accurate perception of their future, and what percentage are absolutely 100% convinced they're going to the Show despite repeating A-ball for the 3rd year in a row??

  • kingtut's picture

    Good stuff. I've worked with a few guys that made it to the majors for a few short stints. It's sad that their experiences have completely turned them away from the sport that they dedicated two plus decades to.

  • radi9's picture

    Good post, I played a year minors too, not as a pitcher, but this sums it up pretty accurately. Crazy how guys perceptions of themselves lead them to believe even after ~8 yrs of minor league ball they still have a shot. Persistence is great but if progression through the system doesn't happen early, enjoy the time, cut losses and move on.

  • Cruncharoo's picture

    Got sort of inspired by this and decided to write down my experience in minor pro hockey. Did this for about 1.5 years after college.

    8:30am: Wake up, have a quick breakfast (usually consisting toast and orange juice) and get out the door. Pre-game skate usually didn’t start until 10am, depending on if we were getting back from a road trip or not, but you still had to be at the rink by 9am for no apparent reason.

    8:45am: Arrive at the rink for pre-game skate. Grab a coffee and watch Sportscenter, see the trainer if you need to.

    9:45am: Get on ice for pre-game skate. It was generally ‘encouraged,’ especially for rookies, that you are on the ice about 15 minutes prior to pre-game skate. Basically, you get out there, take a real long stretch, shoot some pucks, and hop in the net for some warm-ups (I played goalie). If during this time anyone shot a puck anywhere remotely close to my head I would use it as an excuse to get out of the net and continue stretching ‘til the actual pre-game skate started.

    10:00am: Coach gets on the ice and runs the team through about 4 drills, the same 4 drills every single Friday/Saturday/whatever day the game is for 6 months. I am not kidding, we only did those 4 drills and never anything different. We also kind of sucked so I’m not sure why we never changed it up. Two of the drills are basic goalie warm-up/flow drills. About half the guys would respect the goalies and come down and give you easy shots to get warm with (you are literally cold when you get on the ice and it sucks to get hit with a hard puck, think hitting a baseball with an aluminum bat with cold hands but hitting you in the forearm going 80+ mph) and the other half were heroes/trying to get into the lineup so they’d be trying to snipe from the get go.

    10:30am: Pre-game skate is over. As the rookie goalie on the team I was also expected to stay out about 15 minutes after the skate was over to take additional shots from the guys.

    11:00am: Get showered and get out of the rink and head home. From here I would start making or order pre-game meal right away. We had a pretty good italian spot right in town with 25% discounts for the team so I rotated pretty evenly between making and ordering. Pretty much every game the meal is chicken and pasta with varying sauces and preparation methods.

    1:00pm-3:30pm: I know this is going to sound crazy but the thing I miss most about college/minor pros is pre-game nap. You just have eaten a huge carb filled meal and you have no responsibilities for a few hours. Sometimes if I was not playing that night (I wasn’t playing that night the most of time) I would cut out an hour or so from the pre-game nap to indulge in some Xbox. Also, when I was hurt and not dressing I would play Xbox for 2-3 hours and extend my pre-game nap until the puck drop that night (about 7pm), hop in the shower and head to the rink to watch the game.

    3:30pm: Wake up from pre-game nap, take a shower, get in my suit and head to the game. I’d usually pack a small snack (PB&J, power bar) so that I could eat it at the rink.

    5:00pm: General rule of thumb was that you had to be at the rink two hours before the game. I always thought it was kind of silly since I didn’t need a whole lot of time to get ready but some guys could use up the entire two hours easily. Get to the rink, get changed into workout gear and grab a coffee, water and a Gatorade. I actually had crazy rituals on how I mixed my water and gato and how much coffee I drank but that is because I played goalie and anyone who plays goalie has a few (or more) screws loose. We also had a team masseuse and a chiropractor who would come in before games to loosen guys up/crack backs. I’d head over there with my coffee, get an alignment and get my left (catching) shoulder loosened up by the masseuse. I don’t know why I had the catching shoulder loosened up, it was just something I had done since juniors so I stuck with it.

    6:00pm: Team stretch, typical stuff, run around, high knees, lots of clapping and ra ra type stuff. Get back in the locker room and get dressed.

    6:25pm: Pre-on ice warm-up speech from captain, usually involving a “get a good drip out there.”

    6:35pm: On-ice warm-up for 15-20 minutes. Depending on if I was playing or not I would either take this extremely seriously or not at all, usually the latter. Mostly consisted of me trying to stickhandle and throw sauce passes cross ice. The best part would be when I knew someone on the opposing team and we could catch up or someone took a spill during warm-ups so I could laugh at them.

    7:05pm: Puck drop. Either be playing the game or watching it from the bench. The worst part about goalie is that even when you weren’t playing you still had to get dressed and spend the whole game watching. If you were a forward or defense and dressed that means you’d touch the ice that game, not me necessarily. The crazy thing about my career was that I had ridiculous amount of success coming in off the bench, I don’t know if it had to do with adrenaline or what, but if I’d say I was 20% better coming off the bench rather than knowing I was going to start. Think it has something to do with not overthinking it, which could be/is a major problem in a position like goalie.

    10:00pm: Game over. Usually a loss, sometimes a win. Post-game speech from coach that was either too happy or too doomsday prophecy/I’ll replace every last one of you, never inbetween. Roll my eyes and wait ‘til the captain did he post-post-game speech telling everyone to back off the ledge and we were really not all getting cut.

    10:30pm: Get showered and dressed in suit and get out of dodge as fast as possible, usually sign a few autographs on the way out the door. Usually would grab something on the way home, pizza or fast food, or head to bdubs for something, usually got a 15%-50% discount depending on the place, one of the only perks of playing in the middle of nowhere.

    After that, depending on if we had a game the following day, I would either get ready for a night of drinking with the team, or a night of drinking and playing Xbox by myself/with my roomate. If we didn’t have a game we’d order up a fleet of taxis (we all lived in the same apartment complex) and hit the 1-2 bars in our podunk town and about 25% of the time I’d end up at the casino at 2am, ready to lose some of my $575/week paycheck. Rinse and repeat.

    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • In reply to onemanwolfpack
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    Most guys I think realize that if they don't make they'll go home and either coach or give hitting/pitching lessons and they're okay with it. It's a fine line because to make it you need to be delusional about your own ability because the odds are so long.

    I played independent ball for a summer after getting released and people there were totally convinced they were making it to affiliated ball. I remember a guy who was 28 saying "man this is so awesome, getting paid to play ball!" and it made me feel very sad

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • labanker's picture

    +1. Good story. I played baseball back in the day (only through high school) and can definitely relate to the "arm always hurting" comment.

    It's really interesting to get perspectives from guys in "dream" careers such as yours. Just goes to show that once again, reality is often quite different from the hype.

    I forget your transition story. Did you go to business school after playing ball?
    What percentage of guys from the minors make it to the show? Is it pretty obvious who is going to make it?

  • In reply to labanker
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I did my BA and MBA in 5 years (3 years at undergrad, 2 at the school I transferred to). I think 6% of guys drafted in a given year will spend at least one day in the big leagues. The number who make enough money to retire is far less.

    It's funny, there are a few guys who you watch and realize that they're playing a different sport than you are. There were two that I played with that I felt lucky that I was able to watch. One was a pitcher, the other was a SS and it was absurd. The tricky part is that most everyone else has about the same level of talent. Unless you're a freak you have to have a lot of things break your way to make it. For example if you're in the Yankees system you're not going to break into the big leagues with them. They're going to buy a free agent to play your spot so you're kinda screwed no matter how good you are. It's better to get drafted by an awful team with no farm system.

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • TwoThrones's picture

    The pay's really that bad?

  • In reply to TwoThrones
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    Yep. First year guys at my level got $1,100 per month pre-tax. You also had to pay clubhouse dues for every day you were at home which weren't much but added up. Each year you got around a $100 dollar per month pay increase unless you got added to the 40-man roster. First year 40-man guys make $39,950 per year. You also only get paid in season so from October through March (you don't get paid in Spring Training either) you make 0.

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • voetbalwizard's picture

    Funny that Pinpolo made the transition from Baseball to Finance because there are a lot of guys like me in finance that are actively hoping to make the move from finance into baseball (front office at a club or office of the commish).

  • In reply to Pinkpoloshorts
    AndyLouis's picture

    Pinkpoloshorts wrote:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    It's funny, there are a few guys who you watch and realize that they're playing a different sport than you are. There were two that I played with that I felt lucky that I was able to watch. One was a pitcher, the other was a SS and it was absurd.


    how far did these two make it?

  • In reply to AndyLouis
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    One made it to the big leagues less than a year after signing. The other is one of the top prospects in all of the minors and finished up this year in AA.

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • Amphipathic's picture

    SB, great post. What do you think separates the handful of guys who make it from the rest? Are they spending insane hours working out and watching tapes? Or are they just naturally gifted?

  • In reply to Amphipathic
    Cruncharoo's picture

    Amphipathic wrote:

    SB, great post. What do you think separates the handful of guys who make it from the rest? Are they spending insane hours working out and watching tapes? Or are they just naturally gifted?

    I hope pinkpolo answers this too but I have found it is pretty much 90% naturally gifted freak athletes and 10% guys who are extremely hard workers (and a notch or two below freak athletes, so still very good/above average).

    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • In reply to Amphipathic
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    There are definitely a handful of guys who are just so absurdly naturally gifted that it doesn't matter. It's definitely not all hard work, some of the bodies you see on guys are just embarrassing. However sometimes if God says "you will have an absolute thunderbolt for a right arm" it doesn't matter what you do.

    For everyone else I wish I could tell you. The talent gap isn't really that big. A lot of it is circumstances, being in the right organization in the right time, or having the right guy a level above you get hurt so you can take his spot. The most important thing I'd say though is the right mental approach. I definitely was guilty of paralysis by analysis. I never really pitched with a lot of confidence and I think that's a huge reason I make spreadsheets now instead of throwing sliders.

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • meabric's picture

    Do you think life sucks more for pitchers (and maybe catchers) over say, right fielders?

  • design's picture

    Pink polo, which pitches did you have in your repertoire? Were screwballs a part of your game? Those things just destroy your shoulder, don't they?

  • Winning Since 1776's picture

    I definitely can relate to finding the softest throwing guy to throw with. In high school my friend was a huge 6'5" 240 righty and I always hated throwing with him. And running poles was the absolute worst too during practices. Rest of the team is practicing and we are out there running poles all practice.

    I'm too drunk to taste this chicken -Late great Col. Sanders

  • In reply to design
    Pinkpoloshorts's picture

    Funny you mention that. I didn't throw a traditional screwball but my best pitch was a sinker which acted similarly to a screwball. I was mainly sinker-slider. I could run it up to 94 mph but was mostly 90-91. Think Jake Westbrook but a lot lot lot lot lot worse

    Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

    See my WSO Blog | See my WSO interview

  • Amphipathic's picture

    Do a lot of guys screw around with knucklers so that they can become the next wakefield/dickey?

  • WayToWealth's picture

    ^I agree. Hilarious read Pinkpolo! I went undrafted again this basketball season. I'll switch to your weight lifting routine.

  • CrashDavis12's picture

    As a former minor leaguer as well, I just want to say thank you. It is all so true, and it brought me back to a ridiculous, but very fun time in my life.

    Couple of things that I did differently:

    1. I took excedrin everyday instead of Aleve (caffeine boost definitely helps)
    2. Each minor league team is different, but we never resolved to going to bed early, unfortunately we drank pretty heavily 4-6 times a week.

    I was an infielder, but didn't play too much in the minors, so I loved "jogging" down to the pen and staying for an inning, you fucking relievers never had any idea what was going on, it was great. I was cracking up at "or dig a hole (seriously, we dug a huge hole in the bullpen and buried a bunch of baseballs" the pen is probably the most fun on field area of any sport. Also, "On the way in sign some autographs that devalue whatever I signed them on." because they are so true... Towards the end of my career, when I had a good feeling I was gonna stop playing, I thought about telling people to not ruin a good ball.

    Thanks for the post!

  • onemanwolfpack's picture

    Humble athletes who never let it go to their head are my favorite people to drink with. Nice work gents!

    Question for you both (because I debate this all the time with my friends). Let's just say that your minor league careers stunted or delayed the start of your professional business career. Knowing now that you never made the majors, would you do it over again, or come out of school at 22 right into the "other" working world?

  • In reply to onemanwolfpack
    Cruncharoo's picture

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    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • In reply to Cruncharoo
    Flake's picture

    Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

  • In reply to Cruncharoo
    D M's picture

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • Orkid's picture

    It's not work if you love it