It’s Spring Training for Major League Baseball, and all over Florida and Arizona established millionaire baseball stars are getting in shape, while impoverished minor league veterans are hoping to nab a big league roster slot that will alter their finances, careers and lives. The dirt wages teams pay their minor league players is an ongoing scandal, as life in the minors still consists of bus rides, crummy motels and cheap eats, with no job security, no pensions, and little respect. Most of the latter is reserved for the hot young prospects expected to be stars within a couple of years.
These two worlds of Lexus-driving superstars and subsistence-level grunts merge in March, as the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League play exhibition games before retirees and out-of-state fans.
Ryan Sherriff, 26, is from that Other World. He is a non-roster invitee to the St. Louis Cardinals camp, hoping to establish himself on the team’s pitching depth chart for a mid-season call-up when there is an injury or a trade. At his age, time is running out. Ryan also is at camp on his own dime. Every day, Sherriff made the 10- to 15-minute walk from his rented condo to the ballpark. He then walked back after workouts. When he needed food, he walked 15 minutes in the other direction to get groceries.
On one of those walks last week, Cardinal starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was driving by, noticed Sherriff walking and realized that he had seen him do this several times. Wainwright stopped and inquired, and learned that this was his temporary teammate’s mode of transportation as long as he was in Florida.
A couple days later, a Nissan Altima rental was delivered in Sherriff’s name at the ballpark, all expenses paid by Wainwright.
Wainwright told reporters that he remembered when he was young, poor, and hoping for a shot in “The Show.” When he was at his first Spring Training, Wainwright was seen in the clubhouse wearing the same shirt several days in row. Mark Mulder,an established pitcher on the team, left a box of new shirts for him, in his size, at his locker.
“You just kind of pass that stuff on.” Wainwright said. Well, you should. We all should. What a happier, healthier, better society we would have if everyone had Adam Wainwright’s instincts, known for centuries as “The Golden Rule.”
It isn’t the money. On Wainwright’s page at Baseball-Reference.com, it tells us,
Career to date (may be incomplete) $95,237,000 Does not include future salaries ($39M)
Renting a car for a few weeks means as much to the pitcher as paying for a gumball does to me. In this case, however, it really is the thought that counts.
“Waino got me a rental car,” an emotional Sherriff told reporters. “I freaked out a little bit. I started crying. I called my mom, and she started crying. Really, I’ve never had that experience. No one has ever done something so nice for me before.”
Let’s hope he gets his chance to pass it on.
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