Dear Taylor McCarthy [Associate Athletic Director; University of New Hampshire]:
Did I ever tell you the bus story? If so, please stick with me again because there is an ending that pertains to you.
In 2013, after the San Jose Giants clinched the Northern Division Championship of the California League, the team was immediately awarded with a bus ride to Southern California to play either the Inland Empire 66ers or the Lancaster JetHawks, who were playing the deciding game of the Southern Division Championship. When the bus pulled out of the stadium parking lot, the Giants were not sure who their opponent would be as the the southern playoff teams were still playing as the Southern Championship game had gone to extra innings However, the bus driver knew to go south, and he would get the final destination via his radio, so through the night the Giants’ bus went into the San Joaquin Valley as the smell of rotting corpse of Tom Joad permeated the air.
Meanwhile, the 66ers and JetHawks kept playing. And playing. And playing. Eventually, the bus came to a fork in road the Sierra Pelona Mountains– one way was San Bernardino; the other was Lancaster. The bus was forced to pull over on the side of the road, idling until the 66ers would eventually win in fifteen innings after the clock stuck two in the morning. No remembers it was Abel Baker for the 66ers who drove in Angel Rosa in the fifteenth that night, but some still picture that bus doing its Robert Frost imitation in the desert morning, wondering which way to go with miles to go before the team could sleep.
Most fans do not remember the bus story at all though. And why would they? The minors are a fresh slate each year, players, coaches, stats, and records all pulled out to sea by the tide known as the passing of time. Memories in the minors usually do not last through Christmas. Still, the bus idling in the pines of Gorman on a September night is a dam near perfect snapshot of the minors, To the east, one destiny. To the south, another. But first we must wait for other paths to catch up. And sometimes, as in your case, we get off the bus and walk towards the future — or run from the law.
Minor League Baseball is not a career too many people grow old in as they leave for more lucrative opportunities. My buddy Wade Howell [Vice President; Down East Wood Ducks and Hickory Crawdads] has a Wood Ducks tattoo on his inner bicep, and when I asked just what the hell he did that for, he said one night he was drunk and thought if he got the tattoo, he would not leave. I told him, “Well, now you will have a tattoo when you check out.”
Minor league baseball never really leaves a long timer as the residue is forever etched in his DNA. There really is not any nobility about it, but it ain’t crotch rot either. You are not really leaving minor league baseball to chase a new career; you just no longer have to stay at the stadium well after the arc lights go off.
I am sure you will do find great success in new endeavor, and MiLB will miss a guy with your talents, but someone like Owen Hopkins [Ticket Sales & Merchandise Executive, Stockton Ports] will eventually fill your shoes. It is the cycle of life stuff that Disney will never make a live action film about. At best there will be a reality show on a cable channel.
Your friend in baseball,