Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

There's no sense in dancing 'round the subject

You too can enjoy free 'Gansett at the "Home Run in Harvard Square" lecture series!

You too can enjoy free 'Gansett at the "Home Run in Harvard Square" lecture series!

The Cambridge Center for Adult Education is in the midst of a wonderful lecture series titled “Home Run in Harvard Square“.  I had my first opportunity to attend last night – and was treated to a double-header of lectures.  (You’ll forgive the vagueness of some of this.  Knowing I would want to write about it, I was sure to bring my digital recorder last night.  Which I left in the bottom of my bag while I drank free Narragansett Beer during the lectures!  My “reporter” skills are lacking, I know!)

First we heard from Mike Hazen and Raquel Ferreira (directors of player development and minor league operations for the Red Sox, respectively) in their segment called “Scouting, Recruiting, Signing, Developing and Managing the Lads before The Show“.  They talked mostly about what their jobs entail in regard to how they deal with the minor league players.  Hearing that, by Hazen’s count, only two or three percent of the players in the minor league system will make it to the Bigs was eye-opening (especially given circa 2004, when the documentary “A Player to be Named Later” was made, the figure was estimated to be six percent).  Hazen also referred to many of the players as having to be “delusional” to think they’ll make it anywhere past the minor leagues.  Both Hazen and Ferreira agreed that EVERY player in the minors truly believes he has a chance at making it to the majors – even when the team knows it will never happen (and, needing those players to perform, they don’t share that information with them).  Without naming names, Hazen said a 25 year-old player, just yesterday, retired.  A player who, at 25, realized he wouldn’t be going any further in baseball than he already was, so he’s getting out to give himself time to find another career.  It made me think about all the players who stick it out, truly hoping they’ll get their time and it amazes me that so many of them DO stick it out.

They also talked about how little money the minor league players make.  If you were lucky enough to get a good signing bonus, you have that money behind you, but more don’t get that bonus and they’re living off of money they only get paid while they’re working.  One of the numbers thrown around was $1100 a month.  Depending on when you start playing, you could end up making only a few thousand dollars for the year.  If you play from July through September you haven’t even made $5000.  For some of these guys who are married and have kids, it’s a struggle they go through to try and achieve their dreams.  The idea that the team knows some of these guys are sacrificing and struggling for the end result to be nothing…well, I know it’s a business but it upset me a little. We did find out that the guys finally got a bump in their meal money to a whopping $25 a day…so there’s that.  It was interesting to hear Raquel say that they really would like that to be higher but the league, not the teams, makes that determination.  I was also interested to hear Mike say that the big team really “couldn’t care less” if the minor league teams actually won anything because they only focus on the performances of the individuals they expect to eventually make it to the parent team.

The discussion was fascinating if not a bit deflating and I was sorry when it ended.  Mike did most of the talking and he seemed eager to address most of the questions and did a great job of giving good examples without ever mentioning a player by name.

(As an aside, one player was mentioned if not by name by position – apparently, part of Raquel’s job includes making sure the players know how to get to the park.  When our “current left fielder” first got called up to Fenway, he called her in a panic because he could “see the Citgo sign” but had no idea how to turn that into getting to the park!)

The second half of the double header brought us architect Janet Marie Smith.  I have a total fangirl crush on her because I adore what she created with her additions to Fenway Park (and I love that she’s an intergal part of the Orioles Park tour!).  I was a little surprised that there was a bit of a bigger crowd for her than there was for Hazen and Ferreira but I wasn’t disappointed with the content of her lecture at all.  Larry Lucchino and other members of the Red Sox front office (and people who were involved in all the renovations) were there to support her and, after her presentation, Larry joined her on stage to answer questions from the crowd.

A lot of what she discussed I’ve read before in researching her so for me the most interesting part of her segment was finding out that 1) there will be no band of LED screens circling Fenway (we won’t be assaulted by all the LED screens and flashing lights and such as they are at the new Yankee Stadium) and 2) we will most likely next year be getting our own new scoreboard (this one I’ve been waiting on for quite a while!  I don’t want a lifesized one like they have at Yankee Stadium, just one a little bigger and clearer than they have at Fenway currently).  Larry talked a lot about what Fenway means to him and the team and indicated there are no plans in any part of the future while this ownership is there to even entertain the idea of a new park.  (Which also pleased me.)

There are four more events in the lecture series (next week’s being one I’m missing because I’ll be at Fenway, but the following week’s being one I’m excited for and hoping doesn’t get changed, which is Jed Lowrie talking about “The Minor and Major League Experience“).  If you can find your way to Cambridge, it’s an entertaining and informative way to spend an evening.

You’ll notice no mention of yesterday’s game.  I only got to watch pieces of it (and the worst of it I got to watch with no audio) so I’m pretending it didn’t happen.  Sox are back in Boston for a long-ass homestand with a more steady schedule.  They just need a bit of home cooking to get their act together.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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April 16, 2010 - Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. I thought it was very interesting how often Hazen referred, unprompted, to the work they do guiding players through off-the-field issues. It’s easy to forget how much we don’t know about what’s going on in a young player’s development.

    Comment by KellyO | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. Nothing to do with this post but I figured I’d post my question here since it’s the newest….anyone know what’s up with Texy’s blog? Did she give up on it?

    Comment by Seamus | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  3. I know you can still follow her on Twitter but I haven’t seen her make any comment why it’s on hiatus or seems to be on hiatus.

    Comment by Tex19 | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. It took me a long time to get over the fact that the PawSox are not a real baseball team… it’s a collection of individual performances and development. It kind of sucks going to as many games as I do and just being resigned to that.

    Comment by JS | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  5. 1-2% is astonishing. I can easily understand why some guys ‘see the light’ in time to develop another career.

    I loved ‘intergal part of the Orioles…’, seemed so appropriate somehow. Your Freudian slip is showing:)

    Comment by HorshamScouse | April 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Typos is me! 🙂

      Comment by Cyn | April 16, 2010 | Reply

  6. If you’re interested in the minor league stuff, the recent film “Sugar” (http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/sugar?q=sugar) is absolutely phenomenal. I saw it with some friends when it came out a year ago, and even the non-baseball fans loved it.

    Comment by x. trapnel | April 18, 2010 | Reply


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