Monday, February 05, 2007

Life After Baseball

As an former Baltimore Orioles fan of long-standing, I always read with interest news items about the players I grew up watching.

Yesterday, Steve Barber, the first pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the modern franchise, passed away. In searching online for information about Barber, I came across this item from the Baltimore Sun. It was published in the September, 24, 2006, edition under the headline Where Are They Now?

I know the names will largely be unfamiliar to many of you, but what struck me were the jobs these former major league ballplayers held after their playing days were over. Their largely modest means of earning a second living are emblematic of a different, far less well-paid era if nothing else:

Player, Pos., Home, Occupation
Jerry Adair, 2B, Deceased

Luis Aparicio, SS, Maracaibo, Venez., Owner of insurance company

Steve Barber, P, Henderson, Nev., School bus driver

Mark Belanger, SS, Deceased

Frank Bertaina, P, Santa Rosa, Calif., Profession unknown

Paul Blair, OF, Owings Mills Retired, former baseball coach at Coppin State

Curt Blefary, OF-1B, Deceased

Sam Bowens, OF, Deceased

Gene Brabender, P, Deceased

Wally Bunker, P Lowell, Ohio, Potter, craftsman

Camilo Carreon, C, Deceased

Moe Drabowsky, P, Deceased

Mike Epstein, 1B, Denver, Private hitting instructor

Andy Etchebarren, C, Nokimas, Fla., Manager, Aberdeen IronBirds; Orioles' roving catching instructor

Eddie Fisher, P, Altus, Okla., Retired Oklahoma state golf director

Dick Hall, P, Timonium, Certified public accountant

Larry Haney, C, Barboursville, Va., Scout for Milwaukee Brewers

Woodie Held, IF-OF Dubois, Wyo., Retired backhoe operator

Bob Johnson, IF, St. Paul, Minn., Account executive for advertising firm

Davey Johnson, 2B-SS, Winter Park, Fla., Manager U.S. Olympic baseball team; consultant for Washington Nationals

John Miller, P, Mount Airy, Retired firefighter

Stu Miller, P, Cameron Park, Calif., Retired liquor store owner

Dave McNally, P, Deceased

Jim Palmer, P, Palm Beach, Fla., Broadcaster; spokesman for Nutramax, Wal-Mart and Baltimore and Frito-Lay

Tom Phoebus, P, Palm City, Fla., Retired elementary school teacher

Boog Powell, 1B, Grasonville Owner of barbecue chain

Frank Robinson, OF-1B Los Angeles Manager, Washington Nationals

Brooks Robinson,3B, Owings Mills, Assistant to president of Keystone Baseball, owner of four independent minor league clubs

Vic Roznovsky, C, Fresno, Calif., Homebuilder

Bill Short, P, Sarasota, Fla., Profession unknown

Russ Snyder, OF, Nelson, Neb., Retired soil conservation technician

Eddie Watt, P, North Bend, Neb., Retired minor league pitching coach


Hank Bauer, Overland Park, Kan., Retired

Bill Hunter, Lutherville, Retired

Harry Brecheen, Deceased

Gene Woodling, Deceased


Anonymous said...

some of us at least will know of barber from ball four.

Tom G said...

Larry Haney is living the life... Living in the heart of Virginia wine country and scouting baseball.

Alex said...

Happy b-day in advance!

(is that public knowledge?)

All the best on the day the Pistons remain the East's top seed...

Tom Goodman said...

Well, Alex, it is now! Thanks.

RickSchuBlues said...

I checked out the 'sports in brief' section on soon as I saw the note about Barber, I thought of you. It is indeed interesting to see the kinds of professions older ballplayers diverted to after their playing days were over. How many kids that Barber drove on the bus in Nevada knew he had been a 20 game-winner? "Where Are They Now?" features will never again be so interesting.

Jim Palmer is a spokesman for Wal-Mart? Yecch.

Tom Goodman said...

One of the HBO-produced specials on baseball (I think the series was entitled "When It Was A Game", as if the business side emerged only in the modern era, which would come as big surprise to a lot of early ballplayers not the least of whom were any of those who played for William Wrigley) did a great job of describing the ballplayers lives in the off-seasons and by implication after their careers had ended. Selling automobiles, insurance, etc. were common employments.

Those guys didn't make the kind of money that would have permitted them to play golf as a major post-playing days activity. The HBO piece focused on the borough of Brooklyn's love affair with their players, even noting how many of them received what amounted to care packages from the local delis.

Today's players make more in meal money per season than some of those guys did for playing 154 games!!