Fellow Cup Checkers,
Last offseason I was fortunate enough to move to Austin, Texas with a good friend and teammate. I am from Virginia and have only traveled to a different time zone once (New Orleans…that’s another story) in my life, so this was a big change.
I felt like it was my time to go out on my own and get away from home. Being a “high school guy” (signing out of high school with no college experience) in the minor leagues, there are a lot of things you miss out on. Living in a college dorm, balancing classes with baseball, dealing with fraternities and sororities, other student athletes and events, nightlife, not worrying about whether you have enough money on your meal plan, traveling from college town to college town, and lastly…having to be in debt to your parents for the rest of your life.
I was thrown right into real life at eighteen years old, just two short months after walking across the stage collecting my high school diploma. I thought I had it all figured out. A few seasons in the minors then living the dream up in the Big Leagues, it’s as simple as that. Little did I know I would be posting up in motel and be playing at high noon every day in Florida with a huge attendance rate to really get the adrenaline pumping, a total of about ten people (parents and agents).
Learning how to handle a “signing bonus” at that age can be tough as well. One has to accept that you have to make this money last as long as possible, that you are solely responsible for your expenses when there are bills to pay, rent to cough up and not to mention eating out every meal because you can’t cook anything.
The last four off-seasons have all been the same for me. It just felt as if something was missing in my life. I needed to see a little more than just the east coast. I was tired of the same routine over and over again. Who knows if and when I’ll ever have the chance again to get out there and try something new. So moving to Austin, Texas seemed to be the perfect opportunity to just wing it and see what happens.
It’s weird because people always ask, “well aren’t you aways playing nine months of the year? What are you getting away from?” My response is simple, I never got to experience the college lifestyle. I never got the chance to interact with people from different places. All I know is baseball players and the life that comes with the minor leagues. It’s impossible to explain how minor league ball really is to people that have no clue.
A good friend and teammate convinced me to move with him to Texas. It didn’t hurt that three of our other roommates played baseball at The University of Texas. They know a lot of people down there. I was treated by their friends and people I met as if I had played baseball for Texas and I was a familiar face on the team. We are already a month into this minor league season and in our opening series I faced one of my roommates from Austin and three other guys I met while living down there (small world I know).
All of the tailgates, my week living out of my car to see my brother and friends all over the state, seeing and meeting Texas country bands, lifetime fitness, 6th street, running at Town Lake, cooking out, sitting by the fires, Whataburger, my new tattoo (that my mom is going to kill me for), the beard I had and to my new friends that I still keep in touch with. Keep it weird Austin!
The minor league grind isn’t just about chasing your dream, it’s about building relationships with teammates, coaches and others along the way. In my five years on the grind, I’ve been very fortunate to come across some decent ball players and outstanding men. Google mapping your off-season trips to see who you might know along your journey to try and catch up is always a must.
I hope to be able to move back to Austin next off-season if all works out well. If not who would want to join me in a new city? I’m always up for some good memories and stories…
Till next time I’m out,