August 21, 2005

How long is nine years: "An awfully long time. But I've been striving, praying and hoping I'd get the major league opportunity again. I never put my head down. I held true to my dream. I wanted to go up. If I couldn't, I was going to be the best man I could be at Triple-A."

posted by mick to baseball at 09:13 AM - 53 comments

I'll bet nine years in the minors for a couple hundred grand and hopes of making the majors is a lot shorter than nine years roofing houses, paving roads, teaching school, etc. with hopes of making the mortgage. Sorry, but I can't feel sorry for someone who plays ball for a living in any league.

posted by texoma-slim at 10:09 AM on August 21

I don't think the guy's asking you to feel sorry for him, slim. I don't think he's asking you for anything. The writer, perhaps, is asking you to understand how it is for the average professional baseball player -- and a couple hundred thou over nine years ain't exactly livin' large; a roofer, road paver, or teacher makes better money than that.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:33 AM on August 21

from here: 4) What do Minor League players earn? Minor League Baseball player contracts are handled by the Major League Baseball office. Here are the salary ranges: First contract season: $850/month maximum. After that, open to negotiation Alien Salary Rates: Different for aliens on visas--mandated by INS (Immigration). Triple-A--First year: $2,150/month, after first year no less than $2,150/month Class AA-First year: $1,500/month, after first year no less than $1,500/month Class A (full season)--First year: $1,050/month, after first year no less than $1,050/month Class A (short-season)--First year: $850/month, after first year no less than $850/month Dominican & Venezuelan Summer Leagues: no lower than $300/month Meal Money: $20 per day at all levels, while on the road Those aren't really great bucks to be earning, especially if you consider they will only get paid for about 6 months, have a whole lot of people actively competing with them for their positions, and a bad two weeks can mean the end of this (meager) career.

posted by grum@work at 12:46 PM on August 21

And nine years is a very long time. I took civil service tests for eight and a half years before I finally got hired at my current place of employment. When you are trying to make ends meet, and still trying to do what you really love to do. Time goes by even slower

posted by jojomfd1 at 01:07 PM on August 21

He got a $195,000 bonus, right. No sympathy here. I'm one of those guys that would give his left you know what for the chance.

posted by Fisherman at 06:16 PM on August 21

From the article: He never got the Lamborghini. He took the $195,000 and bought his mother a house and a car. He gave his grandparents $10,000. He gave his brother $15,000. For himself, Holbert bought a ... Dodge. As I said before, not exactly livin' large, Fisherman. And yes, I can understand the willingness to give your left generative organ to be in his place. Many -- I'd argue most -- top athletes make exactly that decision, and live hungry for their chance, and most of them we never hear about because they never get their name up in lights. Again, the guy didn't ask for your sympathy. But I think a little respect is in order. We can armchair quarterback about what we woulda done, but this is someone who actually did it. Respect.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:42 PM on August 21

I don't know this guy personally, but I know where he is coming from. I've been in the game since '97 and have had two tastes of the "show". The last one in '03. I consider myself lucky to have had the career I have had and am not bitter that I haven't had more. I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything. After all, how many people can say they made it to the top. However, it can be a tough life in the minor leagues. right now I am sitting home figuring out how I am going to pay the bills until the season starts next April. I just completed a season in the Mexican league and will head off to winter ball in the next couple of months to put some money in the bank. I will have to leave my wife and daughter for about 2 1/2 more months. Yes, it is a great life but it is not easy.

posted by erkno11 at 11:02 PM on August 21

What's your name, Erkno11? I'd love to keep track of how you're doing, and if you ever want to share some of your experiences on SportsFilter, we'd love to host a column. Holbert has only registered two at-bats so far, and has yet to get a hit. His story reminds me of Tim O'Neal, an African-American golfer who has twice been close to qualifying for the PGA Tour at Q School. People who envy the Tolberts and O'Neals ought to think a little more about the personal toll of traveling all over the place trying to make it to the big leagues (or any other dream job that doesn't let you settle down in one place). I'll bet a lot of marraiges end because an athlete refuses to let go and get a "real job" when 30 rolls around.

posted by rcade at 08:06 AM on August 22

wonderful lin. We dont realize how much of a struggle athletes have in order to make it to the "show". We get so hung up on the highly paid/over-hyped players at the major league. I love to hear stories like these, because you the realize that many pro athletes sacrifice to "make it"

posted by daddisamm at 09:04 AM on August 22

Non-pro athletes usually sacrifice even more, daddisamm -- short-track speed skaters don't get paid anything.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:24 AM on August 22

OMFG, grind your ax somewhere else.

posted by yerfatma at 09:43 AM on August 22

short-track speed skating isn't a sport sports invole more then just speed.

posted by Smokeybear420 at 09:58 AM on August 22

Great story, thanks mick.

posted by qbert72 at 11:22 AM on August 22

Nothing is a sport.

posted by rcade at 12:12 PM on August 22

Everything is a sport.

posted by qbert72 at 12:13 PM on August 22

Sport is everything.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:25 PM on August 22

I am Tiger Woods.

posted by rocketman at 12:43 PM on August 22

a) never compare a ball field to a battlefield, it's a game b) never feel sorry for someone making awesome $$ to play said game c) never let a sports writer make me feel sorry for a mediocre player who never lived up to their potential and passed on an education for $$

posted by wookiebooger at 01:10 PM on August 22

d) Never discount the sum total of personal sacrifice and hard work that goes into taking/making a 500,000 to 1 shot (odds of becoming a pro-basketball player if you've played Varsity).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:56 PM on August 22

b) never feel sorry for someone making awesome $$ to play said game You heard it here, folks: turning pro is a sport means giving up your rights as a human being.

posted by yerfatma at 03:32 PM on August 22

You heard it here, folks: turning pro is a sport means giving up your rights as a human being. Your rights as a human being? I don't see anybody in the thread revoking the man's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The indelicately-named wookiebooger simply said he didn't feel sorry for the guy.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:05 PM on August 22

TBH, lookiebooger was using absolutes. He said alot more than that he didn't feel sorry for the guy. I'm sure yerfatma can explain himself, but I too, take offense at the notion that pro athletes get zero sympathy because of their paycheck. Its just a shortsighted, unadventourous, and lazy "rule" I don't agree with.

posted by garfield at 04:16 PM on August 22

No, he said we should never feel sorry for someone making money playing a sport. Seems like an odd distinction.

posted by yerfatma at 05:11 PM on August 22

Could have had a college education paid for. If he couldn't cut it in school, why is he entitled to more than any other high school graduate. I assume he graduated from high school. Here in Lansing, Michigan, a few years ago we had Marcus Taylor playing Basketball for Michigan State. Since his grade school days, he was billed as the next Magic Johnson. He was good, but not great. Took some bad advice, and left MSU early. Has not had an NBA career. I don't feel sorry for him, either. If you don't take advantage of the opportunities you have, you must live with the results of your actions. Obviously this kid wasn't a sure fire major leager.

posted by Fisherman at 06:08 PM on August 22

Fisherman, you're missing the point. Nobody said that he was entitled to more than any other high school graduate; we merely pointed out that, in fact, he got quite a bit less than the average high school grad.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:33 PM on August 22

This is a shot in the dark... erkno11: Are you a left-handed pitcher?

posted by ?! at 12:17 AM on August 23

nice shot, yes

posted by erkno11 at 09:11 AM on August 23

is this you?

posted by goddam at 10:05 AM on August 23

C'mon, erkno, spill it -- please? I want to know if you've played with either of the guys I know who've made the bigs. And I wanna know if I have any of your cards in my shop (which I'd be glad to share with you -- my rule). Oh, and I'm glad to see Aaron Holbert making it. I remember when the Cards drafted him -- we didn't really need a shortstop, not unless Ozzie decided to move to second for the good of the team (fat chance of that).

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:08 AM on August 23

(btw, erkno, if you choose to keep your anonimity, that's cool too, of course. I'm just nosy.)

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:20 AM on August 23

Erkno and I are exchanging e-mail about him providing some updates on his progress next season. I hope this can happen; I love stories of athletes trying to make the bigs. never feel sorry for someone making awesome $$ to play said game Blanket statements like this ignore the fact that most professional athletes don't make a good living at all. Are we not supposed to recognize that Aaron Holbert is more like an everyday working stiff than he is like Barry Bonds? Personally, I find sports more interesting when viewed from the perspective of people like Holbert. It isn't a question of sympathy as much as it is empathy. I can understand his life pretty well. I have no idea what it would be like to be Barry Bonds.

posted by rcade at 11:01 AM on August 23

I have no idea what it would be like to be Barry Bonds. If rcade was Barry Bonds, he'd be reading about himself a whole lot around here. And he'd have to resist even harder to the BanHammer's temptation.

posted by qbert72 at 11:40 AM on August 23

yeah, goddam that's me. What a storied career, huh? I'd like to give you a brief history of my career beyond the numbers, but I don't think anyone but my parents, wife, and friends care

posted by erkno11 at 12:29 PM on August 23

Eric, you would definitely have my attention and caring, if you wish to share.

posted by qbert72 at 12:35 PM on August 23

Yeah, I think you underestimate how interesting that would be. I'd definitely be thankful for some insight into the game beyond what Joe Morgan deigns to dish out.

posted by yerfatma at 01:08 PM on August 23

yes, please feel free to share. there are many here that would be interested.

posted by goddam at 01:54 PM on August 23

If rcade was Barry Bonds, he'd be reading about himself a whole lot around here. He'd also treat each of his mistresses with dignity and respect, just in case they were secretly recording him.

posted by rcade at 02:11 PM on August 23

Eric, I suspect there are plenty of stories in your supposedly unstoried career. If you'd care to share 'em, we'd be more than glad to listen, trust me. So ... did you get a ring as a member of 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks? And should we be holding these questions for when the inevitable SpoFi interview comes up? hint hint

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:34 PM on August 23

thanks for pouring salt into some old wounds. spring training 2002 we came in from a morning workout and everyone but me, jack cust, and lyle overbay had invitations to the ring viewing ceremony. I learned from one of my friends on the team that in the playoff share and ring meeting with the veterans and the guys that were there all year that a couple of the "nice guys of baseball" voted against the september callups that didn't play much receiving a ring. they said that they have played to long and deserved their ring and that some rookies that didn't play much didn't deserve theirs. they also gave the guy that guarded the door to the clubhouse a ring and a 1/2 share of playoff money. I wasn't expecting a ring, but I was told that I would be getting one by a member of the front office. Now I am starting to sound bitter, but I am having a good time writing this stuff and getting it out.

posted by erkno11 at 03:03 PM on August 23

for the record, it wasn't jay bell, mike morgan, mark grace, or randy johnson that voted us out. these guys are some of the nicest guys and best teammates you could want on a team

posted by erkno11 at 03:13 PM on August 23

It was that punk Luis Gonzalez, wasn't it? I never trusted him...unless it was somebody else on the team...and then, I never trusted them either!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:38 PM on August 23

Yikes. Does the number of players getting playoff money affect the individual payout for each player?

posted by rcade at 03:40 PM on August 23

I believe it is (total dollars/ people). Interesting last year's Sox took the opposite approach. Interesting because I'm not sure if it clears Curt Schilling or just means no one in the Boston clubhouse listens to him.

posted by yerfatma at 03:45 PM on August 23

I was gonna post a comment saying that [a certain member of a Boston baseball team] was to blame, but then [he'd] probably swoop in while he's doing google searches on himself between Everquest moves.

posted by YukonGold at 03:47 PM on August 23

Get this man into the interview room, wc2k2, stat! That really sucks, and sorry to bring it up, but now I can play "Guess The Clubhouse Jackass." I KNEW it couldn't be Mark Grace or Mike Morgan. I have a buddy who knows both of them from their Cub days and says they are aces. Doesn't seem like Matt Williams, either, but what do I know? I'm going to speculate on: Tony Womack and Curt Schilling. No need to confirm or deny.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:59 PM on August 23

ever since that pitcher from boston spit his dip in my coffee one morning he has not been one of my favorite guys. i don't know if he voted me out of a ring but the black hand was right on. Verfatma was right when he says no one listens to the two-face media darling. another boston pitcher story, he has one of the biggest mouths in the clubhouse and can be heard all over the room on days he's not pitching. however, you better not utter a peep on his gamedays. one day when he was pitching some guys were joking in the training room when he was getting stretched before the game. he had a fit and almost got his butt kicked when a certain reserve outfielder for the rangers and a retired pitcher whose dad is a ml pitching coach told him to shut the f up. as far as gonzo, he asked me that next spring training what team I played for the year before even though i was on his team for a month. i might have to change my screen name now or watch my back.

posted by erkno11 at 04:13 PM on August 23

ever since that pitcher from boston spit his dip in my coffee one morning he has not been one of my favorite guys. Oh, my god! Are we getting world-class dish here or what??? i might have to change my screen name now or watch my back. We'll watch it for ya!!! (hey goddam, I think this guy needs a special shirt of some kind)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:22 PM on August 23

Sweet. Hey if Schilling comes after you my advice is to sweep the leg.

posted by chris2sy at 04:51 PM on August 23

Never mind the leg, just stomp that famous ankle with your brand new spikes on. Something always told me that Gonzo wasn't quite the "aw-shucks-guy-next-door" type that the press wanted to make him out to be. As far as Schilling's concerned, love him on the mound, but he really lost me after the World Series, during the locker room celebration, there's Curt, acting like he's been a Red Sox standard bearer for years, waving his bottle of bubbly around, screaming "Here's to the best Boston Red Sox team EVER!" to anybody who'd listen. I can only guess at the second part of that statement: " that I'm a part of it!" Plus, he's a member of the God Squad, which already alienates me. Stay cool, erkno11, left handed pitchers never go out of style!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:23 PM on August 23

Now I feel better about not raising my bid on Gonzalez' DNA-soaked wad of expectorated chewing gum on EBay.

posted by rcade at 07:00 PM on August 23

Well now I don't feel bad about my ambivalence toward Our Savior. It's clear the Boston media can't stand him, but that's no indicator of a person's character.

posted by yerfatma at 07:14 PM on August 23

(hey goddam, I think this guy needs a special shirt of some kind) i agree. but maybe a customized one with his nick on the back isn't such a good idea :-) thanks for sharing with us, erkno11. feel free to vent any time you want.

posted by goddam at 10:38 PM on August 23

I'm glad my derail wasn't a problem. I was gone for awhile, but if erkno11 sees this...I add my voice to those clamoring to hear about your life inside and outside "the show." Of course, any former Expo has my ear anyway. PS: I read a lot of good things about your work in the Mexican league by the way.

posted by ?! at 09:13 PM on August 29

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