Every organization is different, and each has their own unique set of rules. Coming up through any minor league system, you become accustomed to these rules- they become second nature. They are guidelines that everyone must follow, and as strange as some may be, no questions are asked. We follow these rules blindly, all while hoping to some day break free from such oppression and make it to the Show, where you basically do whatever you want because, well, because you can- you're a Big Leaguer.
But as we struggle to climb the ranks, we still fall under minor league jurisdiction. Now every team demands its players be on time, work hard, and abide by the different daily schedules and appointments- but they also each have their subtle clubhouse rules: rules that make the MiLB experience slightly different for every club.
No Cleats in the Clubhouse: This rule is a mainstay in most clubhouses, and almost everywhere it proves effective for maybe the first week. The idea is to keep from tracking dirt and mud into the clubhouse, but taking your spikes off outside and walking around in your socks is surprisingly annoying- unfortunately for the clubbie manning the vaccuum, this rule almost never stands the test of time.
Dress Code / Collared Shirt: Every time you make your way to the ballpark, regardless of the time or reason, you have to wear a collared shirt. They want their players looking sharp and professional, which I can actually appreciate. (Hilarious in Rookie Ball seeing the surfer dude from California who brought nothing but t-shirts and wife beaters react to hearing this rule- harsh, bro.)
Must Be Clean-Shaven: Similar to the dress code, the club wants their teams looking sharp and well-groomed; they don't want to have to deal with 22-year olds experimenting with chin straps and neck beards. You are, however, allowed to grow a mustache, perhaps seen by the organization as a more sophisticated look- a lip accessory that I believe every minor leaguer sports at least once in their career.
No Flip-Flops: You must wear shoes or sneakers. I thought this rule only applied when making your way to the park but I was informed on a road trip while wearing flip flops that the rule stands regardless of the setting. The fear is that you will somehow turn your ankle and injure yourself, making you 'useless to the team', as my coach put it. How unathletic do you think we are? I'm not walking down to the hotel pool in my loafers, pal.
Must Wear Your Pants Up: After a lifetime of wearing my pants to my ankles, my world was rocked by this organization-wide rule. Some teams do it because they believe "That's how ballplayers wear their pants"- funny how their Big League 'ballplayers' wear their pants however they please. My team's rule supposedly came about because there was a group of hot shots wearing their pants so low- stretching the cuff of the pant under the heel of the cleat- that they were actually tripping on their own pants and getting thrown out on the base paths because of it. Solution: all pants pulled up. What a joke- a few clowns ruining it for the rest of us.
Sunglasses on Back of Hat: If it's a sunny day, or maybe not even a sunny day and you're just that cool, and you choose to wear sunglasses on your hat in case of emergency, the frames of the shades cannot be set on the brim of your cap facing frontward- they must face backwards. I was told, "Nothing should ever cover up the logo."
No Wrist Tape: All throughout college I taped my glove hand wrist- partly because of a prior wrist injury, but mainly because it looks cool and, as a teammate of mine once put it, "It makes your forearm pop." I was told on day one that "TV tape" was not allowed, but if I wanted they could give me a protective wrist guard to wear. To protect the legitimacy of my previous tapings, and because I of course said it was 100% based on protecting my wrist, I accepted the offer and have worn my new accessory ever since.
These are just a few examples of the little rules that shape an MiLB team. Not everyone likes them, but everyone must follow them. All the more reason to make it to the Bigs.
*There is one rule that will stand the test of time at every level, however, and at the risk of sounding crude I will go ahead and quote my Rookie Ball manager: "No pooping on the bus!" Amen.
MiLB LIFE Series
Being the New Guy
My First Call-Up
A Typical Game Day [Part One]
A Typical Game Day [Part Two]
Being the 'K-Man'
A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
New Helmets Issued, Players Respond: "Are You Joking?"
The Fines of Kangaroo Court