So you want to be a ball player, but don't have much talent. No need to worry. We at the RJG have your back. At career day with the RJG, we will outline how you can have a major league career, while not being that good a player. There are some positions that are always in demand, and certain positions that teams are always willing to take a chance on despite previous track record. Here is everything you need to know about carving out a career in the majors.
Supplying the Demand
Its no thing for an Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, or Derek Jeter to make a major league career. They have talent. But there's no need to worry because if you follow these steps, you could be calling an Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter your teammate. First, you need to know what positions are always in demand. These three positions will keep you employed forever: catcher, shortstop/second baseman, and left handed releiver. Lets break down each one.
For every Jorge Posada, Joe Mauer, and Geovany Soto in the game, there's probably a dozen Koyie Hill's, Kevin Cash's, and Kelly Stinnet's. The good thing about catchers is that they're typically not expected to be able to hit. This goes double for backup catchers. Though its easily the toughest position in the game, its also the one that's always in need. Every season teams have at least one backup catcher on the team, and one in the minors. For example, the Yankees had Molina on the bench and Kevin Cash in triple A. If you know how to call a game, and have a strong arm, this position could be for you. Even if you can't hit, and you run like you're pulling a tractor.
This position is a little more complex since it requires more athletecism and agility than most other positions. The good thing is, shortstops and second baseman aren't expected to hit well, which makes a major league career much more tenable for those who aren't so good. Plus, if you're a shortstop or second baseman you can easily be trained to play first or third base. If you do that, you become a utility player, and that will land you a job anywhere. Don't believe me? Just ask Nick Green, Miguel Cairo, and Wilson Betemit.
Left Handed Relievers
There's not many of them, which makes them a luxury. You don't have to be a shut down player either. If you happen to be left handed and throw out of the bullpen, you'll find yourself getting signed year in and year out. The main requirement for this position is of course, being left handed, but you'll get extra points if you can regularly get left handed batters out. Some left handed relievers of note: Ron Villone, Mike Myers, and Scott Schoeneweis.
Prettying Up the Resume
When creating a resume your goal is not just to outline your previous work experience, but also to show a potential employer something that sets you apart from the pack. In baseball, there are a few things that can pretty up your resume, even if you don't have much experience: being a left handed batter, being a switch hitter, and playing multiple positions. If you're stuck on being a right handed hitter, then learning a new position is the way to go. So you're an infielder? Learn to play an outfield spot. You're a catcher? Flash some leather at first. If you're a pitcher, just stick to pitching, but maybe work on your stamina and show that you can be used as a long releiver every now and again. This gives teams more options, and the more options you give a team, the more likely they are to sign you.
Finances of a Baseball Career
The thing about a sports career is that they're undoubtedly short. Where I can work a desk job well past my 60's, extending a baseball career past your 40th birthday can prove tricky. Besides age catching up with you, sometimes you just run out of teams who want to sign you. Perhaps there's a down turn like there was this last season, and carrying an extra catcher or infielder doesn't sound too appealing for a major league club. Well, there's three steps you will want to take to cover your bases (pun intended) and set up a career after you retire.
A Millions A Good Goal
Though most players may call 300 wins or 3000 hits the greatest milestone you can reach, the truth is that the greatest milestone you can reach is free agency. For a fringe player, arbitration is a good goal too, but free agency will generally get you more money. The reason is, once you reach free agency, you are free to shop your services around to any club. Many fringe players find themselves signing with new teams each year, and may spend a whole season in the minors, but hey, at least they're employed. You're biggest goal when you get called up is to stay called up (easier said than done). The major league minimum pay is $390,000 a season. That's the minimum. A good goal to reach is your first $1 million contract. Depending on how you spend your first million, you could seriously set your family up for a long time. As long as you don't try to keep up with the Jeter's, you can make that money last.
Making a Million Count
Just think about it: $1 million may look more like $600,000 after you pay your agent and your taxes. The first step is to get any idea of living in New York city, or in any city for that matter out of your head. If you're a fringe player, you may not even be playing next season, so you have to be smart. Now, I'm going to assume that you want to be smart with your money, but that hanging out with major leaguers all the time will compel you to spend more than say, me. No problem. With $600,000, you can easily buy a nice house for $300,000. Not in New York mind you, but down south and in mid west, $300,000 goes a long way house wise. Now lets say that you pour $30,000 into the house to fix it up, and install a batting cage. Lets also say that you decide to buy yourself and your wife a lower level luxury car for $35,000 a piece. You've now spent $400,000. Let's also say you set aside $50,000 for each of your two kids college funds, and tell them that they're going to a public school. You have $100,000 left in the bank for the year, and you have your house, cars, and children's colleges paid for. If you've carved your existance in the minors making minor league money, your first million could really secure you and your family for a long time. Just think about how much money and time we normally spend paying mortgages and car notes. What normally would take 30 years to pay took you one paycheck, and you could easily go cheaper.
No Team Will Sign Me What Should I Do?
The great thing about baseball is that its slowly growing abroad. If you're willing to travel, playing in Japan is a great option, and in some cases could be more lucrative. Just ask Darrell Rasner the former Yankees starter, and current Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher. After a few seasons riding the Scranton shuttle, Rasner signed for a guaranteed $1.2 million in Japan for 2 years, with the potential to make $3.5 million from incentives. Not a bad deal. Now not everyone will get a deal like this, but if you can sign over seas, its at least a job, and some income coming your way.
I Want to Retire, What's Next?
Lets say you spent 10 years carving an existance in baseball, and made $2.5 million in that time. Though its small when compared to other players salaries, its way more than most of us would make in 40 years. If you've been smart with your money, you can make it last. Especially when you don't have to pay a mortgage, a car note, and have your children's colleges paid for. However, there's some extra jobs you can take even after your playing career is over.
Many former players become managers, and instructors for minor league teams. If you're good teaching and handling a clubhouse, this would be a good position for you. Are you willing to travel, and speak spanish? Look for jobs as an instructor at one of the many baseball schools in Latin America. Have a keen eye for talent? Talk to your front office about pursuing a career as a scout. If all that fails, hire yourself out as a personal coach. Advertise yourself as a former player with big league experience. You can charge between $100 - $500 an hour easily, and you can put that batting cage you installed in your house to work. If you pick up a few clients and work 20 hours a week, that's $2000 at least, which is about $104,000 a year. I bet you could find a way to live off that. If you were part of a championship team, you can spin that into speaking engagements and guest appearances for many years to come. If you're living in your hometown, do a few commercial spots for the local furniture store.
One more important thing. While you're in the majors, make as many friends as you can. Especially with the wealthier ball players. You may suddenly find yourself on yachts and golf outings that you paid nothing for.
So there you have it. You can make a career in the majors even if you're not the best player to live. Of course, none of this information is reliable since we are not a career service, have no major league experience, and basically pulled everything out of our rears, but hey, its Monday.