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Life of a minor leaguer: “drugs, booze and cheap motels”

Mar 20, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

scott diamond minors

That’s how Australia’s describes life for baseball’s minor leaguers to its readers who are, presumably, not terribly familiar with baseball. Thing is, they cite the “drugs, booze and cheap motels” in an effort to paint the life of minor leaguers as a bad thing. Hell, compared to the fact that they’re not paid a living wage and are treated like heads of cattle, the drugs, booze and cheap motels are the best part!

But really, the story isn’t wrong. It’s just kinda funny to read about things we think of as common described by outsiders. Especially when they use phrases like “as foreign as a Frenchman,” which I am TOTALLY gonna steal from this guy and use again sometime soon.

Anyway, prepare yourself for the worst


Baseball players drink, partly because they don’t always need to be the most athletic specimens in the world of pro sports, but also to pass the time. These guys play up to 160 Games in a season in the Majors or 140 games at minor league level. That’s six games a week for six months. Each night, win or lose, their adrenalin is pumping. A beer or two or seven or eight helps.

No team spirit

Baseball, like cricket, is a team sport that is largely about the sum of individual performances rather than a bunch of guys working together as in the football codes. But it’s off the field that you really feel that lack of spirit, especially at minor league level. Guys in the minors would trample their best mate to get a promotion to the Majors.

Most players in a minor league club barely know each other’s names, let alone hang out together. There are exceptions, but for the most part it is a lonely, selfish mini-universe where the ethos of “one for all, all for one” is as foreign as a Frenchman.

This, right here, is the sport’s secret shame.

Cheap soulless hotels

All those games means a whole bunch of road trips. And road trips mean seedy hotels. At minor league level, a Holiday Inn is like the Hilton. More likely you’ll end up staying in some three star dump on a highway between Crapsville Illinois and Dumpsburg, Arkansas.

I am tired of seeing Crapsville, Illinois dumped on like this. Sure, it was a pretty bad scene in Crapsville 10-15 years ago, but since then they opened up Crapsville Brewery, which makes a great IPA and they turned the old Crapsville Metalworks factory into loft apartments. Really, Crapsville is now like the Brooklyn of the greater Armpit City, Illinois metro area.

Dumpsburg, Arkansas is awful, though. Just a wretched place.

  1. doctornature - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Reminds me of a quote from a Country Music singer, when they asked what he did with his money:

    “I spent 80% on women, whiskey, and weed, and the rest I wasted”

    • zzalapski - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      That sounds a lot like a quote from the father of a country music singer.

      “Ninety percent [of my salary] I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.” – Tug McGraw.

      • gdobs227 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        Don’t understand all of the up votes for the quote by some unnamed country music singer and all of the down votes for the quote by an actual baseball player. Especially since the country singer ripped off the Tug’s quote.

  2. Old Gator - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Moreover, Dumpsburg has just negotiated a deal with Doc Maynard’s Saloon in Seattle to display in its town square an authentic replica of the original Crapper housed in its sub-basement, which has been a fixture of Seattle tourism for decades. The mayor of Crapsville and his secretary had just returned from a fact-finding vaca…heh, mission, to Roswell, New Mexico to explore how that once dusty roadside distraction became wealthy by exploiting its one questionable asset, the gullibility of UFOlogists, when the mayor triumphed over a bout of salmonella (I loved him in From Here to Eternity) by coming up with the inspiration to place this icon of the porcelain goddess in public view.

    Crapsville ought to retaliate by negotiating with Wayne Huizinga to display an authentic replica of the original Dumpster. They might even fill it with 1997 Feesh bobbleheads.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Dumpsburg has a revitalization plan, centered around giving $2Billion in public funds to build a new multi-purpose sports arena Jeff Loria to fill with world-class athletes. Things are looking up.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Not lying: driving through Arkansas once, we stopped at the “HEP-YER-SEF” gas station — a friendly invitation to the self-serve gas pumps and giant pickle jar.

  3. zzalapski - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Huh, I would’ve thought “Major League: Back to the Minors” was the sport’s secret shame.

  4. ja4ed - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    I live in Crapsville, IL. We don’t have any new breweries. The abandoned zinc factory is still a huge eyesore and probably giving everybody cancer. We did just get a new Hardee’s though!

    • NatsLady - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      I have family there! How are they doing? Haven’t heard from them in a while.

  5. cur'68 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    In the meantime, the good folk of Climax, Saskatchewan (pop. 82) remain quietly smug.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Almost as smug as the folks in Bat Cave (North Carolina)?

      • cur'68 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Much, MUCH more smug. In fact, so smug those that haven’t fallen immediately to sleep are smoking a cigarette in bed right now.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      • cur'68 - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Thanks a lot. Now I’m back to being as sad as a f*** again. What is it about Nina Simone? She’s got more feeling in her voice than the words themselves are intended to have. Anyhow…Nina Simone is the bomb. Now I’m gonna go for a walk in the sunshine.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Don’t be sad. I’m sorry.

      • cur'68 - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        Nah, its ok. Me moping around isn’t your fault. Nina Simone is always welcome, too. She’s got one of the all time great singing voices.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        I love her too, and it’s lots of fun to drive around Oklahoma with the windows down and Mississippi Goddamn blaring (especially after the last two elections). 😀 I think it’s verboten to be sad on the first day of spring.

  6. halladaysbiceps - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Red Sox’ minor league catcher Jon Denney was interviewed and approves of this article.

    • halladaysbiceps - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      “You can’t win, Thumb-Harpy. If you thumb me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” – Obi Wan

  7. jrbdmb - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    I’m disappointed that the reporter could do basic research to find out some legitimate minor league baseball hotspots, like Hell MI, Boogertown NC, and Blue Ball PA.

  8. 18thstreet - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Just to be clear, the hotel is between Crapsville, Illinois, and Dumpsburg, Arkansas; it’s not in either place.

    I’m pretty sure he’s talking about St. Louis.


  9. jfk69 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    They pay people to play minor league ball. Hmmm
    Then I want to leave my crappy 9 to 5 job at Scumworks Ltd. in the town of Nowhereville. Paid to drink and play ball and then given a motel room. Throw in hooker and I am on board.

  10. chill1184 - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Outside of Dirk Hayhurst’s books (Ive only read his first one so far which was very good) are there any other good books that describe life in the minor leagues?

    • NatsLady - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      This one got excellent reviews.

    • zzalapski - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Not a book, but I remember a good feature in the April 1991 issue of National Geographic (“A Season in the Minors”.)

    • jgraening - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      Dirk Hayhurst’s first book is a good read. Another good one I’ve found was called Odd Man Out by Matt McCarthy. It goes over the draft process and playing in the Pioneer League with a team in Utah.

  11. TheMorningStar - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Uh, sounds like the life of a lawyer too….well, adding the hookers into the mix as well.

  12. thedoubleentandres - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Its funny I’m readin Dirk Hayhursts Bullpen Gospels at the minute and it is pretty hilarious. We’re talkin about a minor league pitching prospect for the Padres who makes so little money he has to sleep on an air bed, on the floor of his gun toting, 90 year old Grandmas sewing room.
    Funny Stuff

  13. Simon M. - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    But there is no joy in Dumpsburg – mighty Casey has struck out.

  14. slaugin - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    With all the money thrown around MLB you would think they could afford to pay these guys livable wages. Pretty absurd actually

  15. paulhargis53 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    chill: I read The 26th Man by Steve Fireovid. Its a pretty decent read.

  16. paulier55 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Dumpsburg, Arkansas…no longer listed as the worst city in America. Take that, East St. Louis!

  17. tonyc920 - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    That’s why this so called reporter is in Australia where most of us forget from time to time they actually exist. If he had any talent he might be a reporter for the Dumpsville Gazette.

  18. 4d3fect - Mar 21, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    That headline would have made HSTproud. Or jealous.

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