SARASOTA, Fla. – It may not come as a surprise to you to learn that most baseball players have never had a job outside of their sport.
In the days when ballplayers made a salary comparable to many middle class wage earners, they usually had off-season jobs. In a recent New York Times article, Orioles great Jim Palmer revealed that he sold clothes at a Baltimore department store the winter the team won its first World Series in 1966.
Most of today’s Orioles never had a job, but a number did.
Take Adam Russell. Or, rather you wouldn’t want to take him on. The 6-foot-8 reliever who weighs north of 255 lbs. was a bouncer at a downtown Cleveland bar run by some of his friends the year after he played rookie ball. Russell needed the money after he made $850 a month his first season of professional ball.
“I made way more than I made in baseball,” he says. But, the bar quickly closed.
“I probably wouldn’t do it again,” he admits.
Miguel Gonzalez, who was undrafted, has had several off-season jobs. As recently as 2008, he worked in Vallarata, a supermarket chain in California that caters to Mexican-Americans. He was a stockboy for $8 an hour. He also worked with a few friends in construction.
Pedro Strop, who comes from the Dominican Republic, says that like many of his countrymen who play baseball, he’s never worked. Strop was signed as a teenager by the Colorado Rockies, and because the weather is good, players in the Dominican play ball all year long.
Ryan Flaherty comes from Maine, and he regularly worked on fishing docks, unloading fish from the boats, putting them in ice and loading them onto trucks.
J.J. Hardy had perhaps the most unusual job. He was a mentor to an eight-year-old boy whose parents took tennis lessons from his father in Tucson, Ariz. Hardy would pick up the child from school, take him to the park to play and make sure he did his homework.
A wealthy family paid him $15 an hour. It paid better than his other high school job, refereeing soccer games.
As for Daniel Schlereth, the son of NFL star Mark Schlereth, he worked in landscaping while attending high school in Colorado.
“That’s why I play baseball,” Schlereth said.