Everybody knows the expression "baseball is a game of numbers." Well, let me share some that may surprise
There are fifteen hundred jobs as professional baseball players in Major League organizations in the United States.
There are thirty Major League organizations, and each has several Minor League teams. The Mets lead with nine teams,
fourteen organizations have eight, eleven have seven, and four have six. That adds up to thirty Minor League teams.
Let's assume each team has a 25-man roster. That's 1500 players. Half that number, 750, populate the Major Leagues.
I don't need to give you actual numbers for front office personnel, player development departments, scouting departments,
field managers and coaches, roving instructors, etc. per MLB organization. Oh, and don't forget all the jobs in
stadium operations, publicity, promotions, broadcasting, and the list goes on. You get the picture.
Baseball Scout, Scouting Supervisor, 50+ years: "There are more opportunities
in professional baseball today than at any time in the game's history.
"Professional baseball needs players. Period.
"When I was a kid we all played baseball, and we played it every chance we got. We played in sandlots, in
the streets, and anyplace we could get a pickup team. In the summers we played every day, all day, until it was
dark outside. But kids are distracted these days with other sports and video games.
"The truth is that because of expansion more players are making it to the Major Leagues today than ever before
in baseball history. The young players coming up need to be patient, listen and learn in the Minor Leagues so they'll
be ready to stay in the big leagues when they get there.
"And another thing. If kids have the chance to fail in the Minor Leagues as I did, and they take the time
to step back and reflect on that as I did, they wouldn't change that for anything in the world. And if they want
to remain in the game in another capacity, there are a lot of baseball jobs out there."
GM, Houston Astros: "I never played professional baseball. I had the
opportunity out of high school but decided to go to college instead. I'm a former college player at St. Josephs
University in Philadelphia. And then, after college, I just didn't have the opportunity. I was the guy who tried
to pitch and play the outfield, but the day after I pitched my arm was always hanging. So you could say I kind
of wore myself out arm-wise by the time I finished college.
"I went into college coaching and was the Pitching Coach and Athletic Director at Florida International University
for five years. I then went to work for the Houston Astros from 1978-1981. While there I scouted, was a Minor League
pitching coach, then traveling secretary for a year and ended up as an assistant to the General Manager. Later,
I went to work for Tal Smith, who was a former GM of the Astros who opened his own consulting business for Major
League clubs. I spent two years there mostly preparing and conducting salary arbitration for about a dozen Major
"Believe it or not, I then got out of baseball and went into the investment banking business for about five
years. But I missed the game and returned with the New York Mets as their Minor League Director. In the fall of
1990 I was named the Director of Baseball Operations for the Mets. Later, I returned to Houston as Director of
Player Development and am now the GM of the Astros."
Why in the world include Gerry Hunsicker's resume? He never played the game as a professional. Precisely my point!
First, he's respected as a great baseball man who knows the game better than most, and in his various capacities
over the years, he has contributed much to the game. Second, he's an example of a man who didn't begin his baseball
career as a player, but nobody will argue with the accomplishments he's achieved in his own career in pro baseball.
Third, there are lots of Gerry Hunsakers in the game.
Manager, Vancouver A's, Northwest League: "In the first five years I
played, little league and colt league, I had a total of maybe thirty at bats. But that didn't slow me down or deter
me for a minute.
"In high school I played freshman baseball then made the varsity as a sophomore. In my senior year I was co-MVP
of the team and was named All-League. It was great. I worked hard during those years, always trying to improve.
When I went to Cal Poly at Pomona, I broke my arm and didn't play my freshman year, but played the remaining three
"In my senior year in college I had a serious eye injury. I got hit by a ball out of a pitching machine moving
at about eighty miles an hour, which shattered the left side of my face. It required 29 hours of surgery and I
now have plastic bones in my face. After that I used to kid people and say that I couldn't play too long in the
sun because my face would melt.
"Fortunately, I was able to return to the game and was signed out of college by the same scout who signed
Bobby Bonds and other big name baseball players. At that point I felt I was a Major League prospect, as most rookies
do. I listened intently to my coaches and worked hard. In fact, my attitude was always that nobody worked harder
than I did.
"Well, I played two years in the San Francisco Giants organization and got as high as the Class A League.
What happened was that my sight was permanently impaired by the injury to the point where I couldn't see the ball
well at night, and I sometimes saw double during the day. Obviously, this isn't good when you're standing at the
plate or trying to field an infield grounder. At first I never told anybody because I wanted the baseball career
so much. But it eventually got so bad that glasses didn't help.
"I wanted more than anything to make good with the Giants. They took me anyway because I battled back from
the surgery and did well. But I was playing on guts more than anything. I'd altered my whole game to get my right
eye into the pitcher. Trying to do well with only one good eye became such a struggle and strain that it set me
"In my second year I could no longer function at that level of play. I knew it and they knew it. They released
me. It hurt for awhile, but those things are part of life, and I had to adjust. So I carried my will to play into
the coaching ranks and had an opportunity to return to Cal-Poly as the Assistant to Coach John Scolinas, where
I advised college players regarding turning pro. I did that for three years before becoming a Minor League manager
in the Oakland Organization."
former ML player, 15 seasons; former player/manager, Indians; member, Hall of Fame:
" Pro baseball has improved in many ways since I first entered the game. I mean there's much greater opportunity
for success and longevity now for a lot of reasons. Of course, there's more big league organizations due to expansion.
There's more focus on physical and psychological conditioning for the players, especially the youngsters. The managers
at the Minor League levels are former players for the most part and impart a greater knowledge of the game. And
the travel conditions are better except for the lower Minor Leagues where the teams are so far apart. All these
things make it easier for players to concentrate on honing their individual skills, play very hard, work very hard,
and stay focused because there are so many jobs here."
By the way, Lou Boudreau was a color announcer for the Chicago Cubs for many years after he retired as a player.
"Good Kid," as he was nicknamed because he was only 24 when he managed the Indians to their American
League pennant in 1948, was as at home in the announcer's booth as he was on the field.
Read the book for more information about how you can control your own fate in professional baseball, and have a
lifetime baseball career.