There is no worse feeling in sports than struggling to climb out of minor league baseball. Minor league baseball requires players to train, travel, and sacrifice family life in order to play ball. Most players put up with it for a year or so, but minor league ball is not a glamorous lifestyle. According to a recent USA today article, most minor league players make between $3,500-7,000 during a five month season. For at least seven months a year training and playing baseball is a full-time commitment. Minor league ballplayers live in poverty unless they are supported by their families. Most minor league players play ball for no more than a couple years before they either ascend to the Major Leagues where their minimum wage is raised to $500,000 or being forced into retirement. All too often, retirement is the stark reality for most minor league players.
Minor league baseball players may be the poorest most talented people on the planet. Minor league fastball pitchers must be able to consistently hit targets no larger than six inches wide at ninety-miles an hour. Offensive positions must have the eyesight, reflexes, and judgement skills to be able to hit these balls, and they must do so in one third of a second. They must also acquire base running, throwing, and catching skills. Hitters are also expected to undergo weight lifting and training to not just hit the ball frequently, but to hit the ball hard. Very few of the general population will ever at any point in their lives have the skills and abilities to make a cut in any level of minor league ball.
Brock Stassi is one of the few players to work the minor league system. He has played for six different minor league teams since he was drafted in the 33rd round as the 1,021st overall pick. So many obstacles could have and should have impeded Stassi from reaching the majors, yet the Philadelphia Phillies have announced that this year Stassi has made their roster. Making a major league roster is monumental news for any baseball player, but perhaps this news has even greater meaning for Stassi who has had to work longer to reach it. Six years is a long time to live on $7,500 a year. He supplemented his income substitute teaching during the off-season, which typically only pays $80 a day. For now, his teaching and minor league days are behind him. Although, I am not by any means a Philadelphia fan, I admire the first baseman for his determination and hope that he has a good year. Happy trails.