Lisa from Massachusetts asks:
Hi Matt! What was your first impression of professional baseball when you were drafted? Was it everything you imagined?
Thanks for writing Lisa. Actually, when I first arrived in Eugene, Oregon a week after getting drafted, it was nothing like I had imagined. Growing up, and even throughout college, I was not very familiar with minor league baseball. I had never been to a game, and didn't know very many people that were playing in the minor leagues. Our home ballpark was one of the oldest parks in the United States. It was over 100 years old. You could have sworn at any minute the place was going to collapse. I lived in a hotel room with a roommate for the entire summer. The room was very small and only had two beds with a tiny television. No kitchen. No microwave. At the field we were given peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for a pre-game meal. Sometimes we had a choice of Doritos chips. The locker room was smaller and older than my college locker room. We would travel from town to town on a bus that may have been older than our stadium. We broke down a few times, once on a return ride from Vancouver, Canada, when it took us a total of 15 hours to return. If you have ever seen the movie Bull Durham you can get a pretty good idea of what life was like. I didn't have a car, but instead rode a bicycle to and from the ball park. After games I would ride to IHOP or McDonald's for dinner. If our game ended early enough there would still be a restaurant or two open so we could get a real meal. I was paid $300 a week, and that was before I paid for my hotel room and club house dues. I was fortunate enough to receive a signing bonus, but there were many players that didn't and had to scrape to get by for the summer. Those are many of the things that I didn't expect to find when I arrived for the first time. There were also a lot of great things I found. It was really great baseball. Most of our players were all great college players or from countries like Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and many others. Many were high draft picks, and even the guys that weren't were tremendous ballplayers as well. The stands were packed for almost every game. In college we were lucky to have 500 people at a game. We routinely had a couple thousand every weekend in Eugene. The coaches were great. They all knew so much about the game. I learned more about baseball my first professional season than I had for almost my entire life. Overall, it was just a lot of fun being in a nice place, with a new team, and great people.