Top 100 Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

When Baseball Players Had to Really Work: Off-Season Jobs of the Rich and Famous

With the high salaries that major league baseball players can earn today it’s difficult to comprehend that they may work second jobs. After all, with fame, money and access to resources most people can only dream of, why they want to work themselves to the bone? Regardless of how much they have been paid, players working alternate jobs during the off season has been a common practice throughout the history of the game.

It used to be that being a professional baseball star could pay well, but not necessarily make you rich. These days, the minimum major league salary is $550,000 and the best players in the game can earn as much as $35 million annually. Given the scale of modern major league pay, the idea of Mike Trout working at your neighborhood Staples or Bryce Harper selling you a car is humorous. However, major league players of all abilities and skills have worked a wide variety of second jobs during their careers over the years, including into the present. Here is a small sampling of some.

Yankees catcher Yogi Berra worked at times as a hardware salesman for Sears, a waiter at an Italian restaurant, and as a salesperson at a men’s clothing store.

Fleet of foot outfielder Lou Brock ran a florist shop at one point in the off season, despite lacking previous experience in the business.

Pitcher Gary Bell supplemented his income by working as a photographer, specializing in taking pictures of school children. Imagine having a major league star hand you a plastic comb.

After the 1966 World Series, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer sold men’s’ suits at Hamburgers Clothing in Baltimore for a weekly paycheck of $150.

Journeyman Nick Franklin, last of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, briefly worked as an Uber driver prior to the 2017 season.

Following the 1906 season where he won 26 games and led his Chicago Cubs to the National League pennant, ace pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown took an off-season job working in a coal mine to help make ends meet.

Carl Furrillo, the star outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, ran a local deli when not chasing down fly balls.

Pitcher Don Rudolph won a total of 18 games during his six major league seasons. He also did quite well in the off season, managing his wife Patti, who was a burlesque dancer. Duties included catching the clothing she flung off the stage during performances and matching her lipstick shades to her outfits.

Richie Hebner was fortunate in that his family owned a cemetery in Massachusetts. He was able to make extra money every off season for years digging graves.

Flame-throwing right-handed pitcher Nolan Ryan worked at times as a gas station attendant and installing air conditioning in his native Teas.

St. Louis Cardinals stars Stan Musial, Terry Moore, Red Schoendienst and Marty Marion sold Christmas trees from a parking lot.

Jackie Robinson won the National League MVP Award with the Dodgers in 1949. That off season, he made extra money working at Sunset Appliances in Queens. The store owner loved his new employee, gushing, “He’s a natural salesman, with a natural modesty that appeals to buyers.” 

Even some current players find alternate employment in the offseason, either because of personal interest or preparing themselves for a career after baseball. Pitcher Collin McHugh used to work part time for the Boosterthon Fun Run office, which is a professional fundraising office for schools.

Meanwhile, Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer has continued working in plumbing for a friend who owns his own business.

As you can see, baseball players can be quite industrious off the field. Although the working man image that has often been attached to them in the past may be fading as salaries continue to rise, it’s an important part of the game that needs to be remembered.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) an topics of baseball that are available on Amazon

No comments:

Post a Comment