Lucey: The boys of winter, offseason baseball jobs

From SABR member Bill Lucey at The National Pastime Museum on December 22, 2014:

With the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals having reached a thunderous conclusion, it’s now time for Major League ballplayers to put away their gloves, hang up their spikes, and make their winter plans.

Did you ever wonder how much time baseball players have to travel the world, get reacquainted with their families, and while away the hours before packing their belongings and heading to spring training?

It might come as a surprise to learn that, while the rest of us are slogging through the snow and combating the driving winds, most baseball players don’t have as much time to relax on the beach and soak up the sun during the offseason as you might think.

According to Ron Blum, baseball writer for the Associated Press, “Most [baseball players] take a few weeks off, then start weight room routines around Thanksgiving (though some lift straight through), light hitting and throwing in December, more intensive hitting and throwing right after Jan. 1.”

Tom Boswell, sports columnist for the Washington Post, sharply rejects any suggestion that baseball players, or professional athletes in general for that matter, lead leisurely lives during the long winter months of the offseason. “Ballplayers work, and work very hard and very long hours, on a year-round basis that would far surpass the average American (or probably the average doctor/lawyer/business person who thinks they work very hard). Pro athletes,” Boswell stresses, “have plenty of flaws. With rare exceptions, they are fanatically hard workers out of season, too. Money motivates. But so does pride. Fans really underestimate this area of athletic character.”

Believe it or not, it wasn’t all that long ago when baseball players had little choice about how they were going to spend their offseason. They simply didn’t have the financial independence to sharpen their athletic skills and polish their mechanics with any kind of regularity before darting off to spring training.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: December 23, 2014. Last Updated: December 23, 2014.