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A Day in the Life of a Baseball Player

A baseball player plays baseball. Bet you could have guessed that. Although very few people actually get to do this for a living, we've included it in this book because it is a dream job for so many. This internationally played sport attracts millions of viewers worldwide who admire, trust and respect the men who play the game. A baseball player's career has two distinct and very different stages: the minor leagues and the major leagues. At the beginning of the overwhelming majority of players' careers, they are ushered into the three-tier system of minor-league professional baseball: Single-A baseball (the lowest minor league level), double-A baseball (the middle minor league level) and triple-A baseball (the highest minor league level). Working in such exotic locations as Toledo, Norwalk, and Columbus, baseball players follow the instructions of their coaches and work on specific baseball skills, general conditioning, and emotional maturity. The last is the most underrated portion of the profession, but it is a significant factor in making it to the major leagues. Hours are long. Players pack and carry their own luggage for long bus trips to games. Many hold additional jobs in the off-season to make ends meet, which can be hard to do on a salary of about $180/week. Satisfaction is low in the minors, but players enjoy a strong sense of camaraderie with other aspiring major leaguers. Many remain late after practices and games to work on skills, weight training, and conditioning. Major league players have the advantage of a strong union, and the minimum salary for entry-level players is $109,000 per season, which lasts roughly eight months, from March through October. They do not carry their own luggage. Practices are plentiful in the spring, but do not take place during the season. Players are required to show up at least one hour before game time prepared to play, to be in reasonable condition, and to obey the direction of the manager and coaches. Baseball players are under a great deal of pressure to perform during games. They lack job security; one significant injury, such as a torn ligament or an eye disorder, that prevents a player from playing at his best level could mean the end of a career. On an even less dramatic level, playing inconsistently and losing the trust of your manager can lead to the same result.

Paying Your Dues

It takes skill, luck, and hard work to have a shot at becoming a baseball player, and even then, your chances are slim. No academic requirements exist for baseball players; in fact, many are drafted immediately out of high school. First, you need talent--excellent hand-eye coordination, the right body-type, and specific baseball skills. Then, you need good coaching and training, so that you stand out from the other millions of young people who play baseball. This can be accomplished through hard work and dedication, in addition to your incredible skill. Then you need luck to play in a game where a scout or a college recruiter can observe you, and you need to play well on that day. If you make it to the minor leagues, you find that everyone else is as young, talented, and highly thought of as you are. Around 700 players participate in the major leagues each year. Once there, the average career lasts 2.7 years.

Present and Future

Baseball, an American version of the English game of cricket, was invented by Alexander Cartwright (not Abner Doubleday, as many think) in 1845. The world championship (first known as the American League championship) has been played since 1903. Baseball has seen the most significant global fan base growth of any major sport (although basketball is fast approaching baseball's popularity) and is particularly popular in the Caribbean. Baseball has also been the sport with the most work stoppages in its history. Baseball is in crisis. The most recent work stoppage (caused in 1994 by stalemated negotiations between the Players' Association and the owners of all major league teams) fostered significant resentment between fans and the game they grew up loving. The remainder of the 1994 season was played with no agreement in place. The size and dedication of the fan base determines the demand for the sport, the demand for the sport determines the revenues the sport receives, and the revenues the sport receives determines the salaries major league baseball players earn.

Quality of Life


Players are in the minor leagues, learning skills and training along with other hopefuls. Superstars and career minor-leaguers are treated alike at this point, encouraging camaraderie. Promotion is based on performance, and many need to mature emotionally and physically. They also need to improve their skills. If one fails and is dropped from a single-A roster, it is very difficult to re-enter baseball.


Five-year veterans have progressed at least to double-A minor league baseball and specialize in one position. They work with strength coaches, flexibility coaches, hitting instructors, fielding instructors, and pitching coaches to learn their skill on a professional level. The majority of prospects who have exceptional talent are promoted to the major leagues by this point, but few have extensive major league experience. Salaries skyrocket. Most do not make it this far.


Ten-year veterans have led a storybook life, survived in the major leagues, played before hundreds of thousands of people, and acquired at least modest television and tabloid fame. The majority of successful players are on the downside of their careers with their best years behind them. Those with five years of major-league playing time become eligible for Players' Association pension funds, which can support a marginal major league player for the rest of his life.