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Being A Professional Baseball Player Usually Sucks

Ask the average person his opinion of professional baseball players and he'll probably come back at you with something standard. They're spoiled. They're overpaid. They're all roiders and cheaters. They get paid way too much money to play a kid's game most people would play for free. Basically, ask the average person his opinion of professional baseball players, and he'll profile a guy like this:

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That, however, is an unfair characterization. In reality, when asked about professional baseball players, the average person ought to imagine a player more like this:

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For most players, the professional baseball lifestyle is not a glamorous one, and it's laid out in extraordinary detail by Mike Ashmore, a writer who covers the AA-ball Trenton Thunder. The Major Leagues? The Major Leagues are a dream, a dream that few players ever realize and fewer still realize for long. The overwhelming majority of players survive in the minors, and in the minors, it's a struggle to get by.

A few choice excerpts:

Most players in the minor leagues — some estimates have the number as high as 90 percent — will not play in the big leagues.

Players are only paid during the season, meaning they’re paid roughly five months out of the year, not twelve. Even during spring training, players are unpaid.

“I had a couple of times where I had to dig for quarters, literally, in High-A, just to buy some food to cook at home because I really just didn’t have any money,” said Edwar Gonzalez, who signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2002.

In those same five states, the hourly minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. For a player making the Double-A minimum of $1,700 a month, he’ll earn $6.07 an hour while on the job.

Losing a little space and privacy to save a buck is a necessary part of minor league life, with some players sharing stories of splitting tiny apartment buildings with five teammates.

“The only part that’s bad is the road trips, where the only place we can stop on the highway is McDonald’s with the hours and it’s just the easiest spot to stop so we don’t waste time. The dollar menu looks real nice.”

It goes on like that, and honestly, if I wanted to be thorough about providing relevant and interesting quotes, this commentary would run thousands of words long. My recommendation, then, is to take a half hour to check out the source article, which - while long - is absolutely a must-read for fans and haters of the game alike. At its upper levels, baseball - like most any profession - offers a great bounty of wealth, but playing the game is by no means an effective scheme to get rich quick, and it just can't do any harm to gain a better understanding of what these people have gone through in pursuing their common dream.