I wouldn’t play professional baseball again, even if I had the chance.
It’s a simple sentence, but it’s real. While it is more relatable to the current/former minor league baseball players who have been through it, it’s just as important for any baseball fans or kids to know about some of what you go through as a professional baseball player.
Now, if you ask most, if not all, of the kids who are playing baseball right now if they would like to be a professional baseball player one day, the answer is going to be a “Hell yes!” And that’s great because, well, the more the younger generations love and play the game, the better it is for the future of baseball.
However: Do they know how the MLB draft works? Or what the pay is like in the minor leagues? Or what the daily routine is like for a minor leaguer in-season and offseason? Or what kind of financial problems minor leaguers face on a daily basis? Or what it’s like playing a 7 p.m. game that finishes at 10 p.m. to get you out of the stadium by 11 p.m. to start a shitty 12-hour bus ride with 30-plus people and check-in to the hotel for a few hours before getting back on the field by 4 p.m. for another day of baseball?
Of course not.
I could probably come up with at least 69 reasons on why I would not play professional baseball again, even if I was given a pro contract right in front of me, but for this article’s sake I’m going to keep it to just three.
The salary is terrible. The worst year of pay I’ve received was in 2011, which was actually my best year of playing, stat-wise (.350, with six bombs, in rookie ball). Here is a quick breakdown:
Spring Training (one month) = $0 salary
Extended Camp (two-and-a-half months) = $0 salary
Rookie Ball AZL (two-and-a-half months) = $1,100/month from middle of June until end of August, about $2,800 total.
Instructional Camp (one month) = $0 salary
So while getting paid as a professional baseball player in 2011, I received about $2,800, That’s for the year, people. Now I haven’t included meal money, which we receive around $20 per day from the team during spring training, extended camp, only road games in-season, and instructional camp. What I also haven’t included was the fact that from the $1,100/month, after taxes, fees, clubhouse dues (money we pay for the clubbie to do our laundry and other stuff), I was bringing home about $800 a month.
You could get a job at McDonald’s as a 16-year-old high-school kid with no skills other than a little bit of will to make some money, and make $2,800 in less than two months.
(And my highest-salaried year as a professional wasn’t much better than this, by the way.)
Job security is close to nonexistent. There are many, many ways for you to lose your job as a professional baseball player, such as injuries, age (if you are 25 as a professional baseball player, you are considered old), available roster spots, competition within the organization, what kind of numbers you put up, potential level, and more. In contrast, the only way for you to keep your job is to dominate every single year and even in doing so, you may not move up.
I’ve witnessed, with my own eyes, lower-round picks repeating a level that they dominated in just because of politics within the organization. Unless you are a first round pick, or at most a pick in the top five rounds, you need to put up some serious numbers within two or three years, or you might be the one getting released in the offseason or the following year.
Now, I get that this is the highest level of competition there is for baseball, and I welcome the fact that the competition level is so high. But once again, what I have a problem with is the fact that they have to go through all of this shit while getting paid well below minimum wage.
The 12-hour bus rides, being away from home for six or seven months of the year, living suitcase-to-suitcase where in most cases minor leaguers don’t even unpack because they can get called up or down in a matter of seconds, constant checking the bank account to see if you have enough money to eat and drink for the week, trying not to kill yourself in Low-A in Kannapolis where a baseball team shouldn’t even exist at all are disincentives to playing the game professionally.
I’m 30 years old.
Fuck that noise.
You may be thinking, c’mon, Sim just said 25 is old for a minor leaguer. He’s 30? Of course he wouldn’t sign a contract — no one would ever offer one. Dude probably can’t even get up off the couch any longer.
Well, that’s not exactly right. You know that baseball training I’ve started back up? As fat and out of shape I am currently in, I can still put on some serious numbers. This latest round of baseball training has been a blast, and I’ll tell you about it some time.
You may or may not have to wait another three months. Only time will tell.