|"What's up, MTV- I'm a minor leaguer, and this is my crib."|
Three nights- that's all you get. Whether you've been moved up, sent down, or are starting your career, when you first arrive to a new team, the organization puts you up in a hotel for your first three nights- after that, you're on your own.
There you are- plopped down in the middle of a city you've never even heard of, facing a 72-hour deadline to find yourself a place to live. It's even more fun when you don't have a car- that's when it gets really interesting.
My first three nights in Rookie Ball were spent in a Howard Johnson's motel. In addition to being rundown and disgustingly dirty, it was located in the middle of a neighborhood that made you wish there were more than just five variations of locks on the door- the type of place where you fell asleep every night to the soothing lullaby of police sirens. Even at the all expenses paid price of free, this place was a ripoff.
But as terrible as it was, the HoJo was conveniently located about a mile from our ballpark- a blessing really, considering I had not yet met a kid with a car at his disposal.
After walking to the stadium that first day, everyone in my draft class convened and bonded over our frustration regarding the living situation- not to mention, the town in general. As we complained and commiserated, older players who had come from Extended Spring Training and already had a year under their belt were entertained by our innocence and the utter shock we displayed. Welcome to Pro-Ball.
While my new teammates started touring nearby apartment complexes, I contacted my pal Kenny back home. A year behind me in school, Kenny and I were college teammates and close friends- to this day we find it unbelievable that we were drafted by the same team.
Kenny was a top-10 rounder and, as a junior, had some leverage to work with during negotiations, so he was still at home ironing out the details of his contract. He was curious what pro-ball was like, however, so it basically became my job to get the lay of the land and report back to him with any updates from Hicksville.
While I waited for his arrival, I grew friendly with two kids on my team whom I had met on my ride in from the airport. When Kenny finally reported a few days later, the four of us stayed another three nights in the Howard Johnson's, utilizing the extra bed in Kenny's free room and splitting the cost of another room three ways. Kenny and I spacing out our arrivals worked well to maximize our complementary motel period, but eventually it came time to settle down and find a home.
Kenny had driven his car down to our team's town which made things easier, but finding a place to live seemed impossible. We couldn't find apartments that issued short-term leasing, and even the ones that did refused to speak with us because of the behavior of ballplayers in our organization who had stayed there in years past.
Then, it hit us.
Motel 6! Boom- Perfect. There was one a few miles from the field, and although it wasn't glamorous- or nice, for that matter- it was better than the HoJo. All the apartments we had spoken to were unfurnished, so even if we were able to work a short-term deal, we would then have to worry about beds, TV's, chairs- it'd be a Hell hole, and an expensive one at that.
The rooms at Motel 6 had everything we needed: two big beds, a bathroom, shower, sink, closets- not to mention two chairs, a table, air conditioning, a land-line phone, cable TV with HBO, wireless internet, a stove, refrigerator, pool, and even daily maid service. Throw in the fact that after we met with the manager, the monthly rate was cheaper than any apartment we had spoken with and we had it made in the shade.
Needless to say, we were pretty pleased with ourselves. As far as we were concerned, we had beaten the system. People were constantly around the motel, we knew the manager- we just felt safer there than we would in any of the sketchy apartment complexes we had seen. We were happy, and it didn't hurt that we didn't have to worry about setting up cable, internet, or air conditioning services on our own, either.
The Motel 6 didn't offer luxurious accomodations. Hell, it wouldn't even qualify as nice. But for the months of June and July in Rookie Ball, they "Left the light on for us." It was our home.
MiLB LIFE Series
How Long Until You're in the Bigs?
Being a Senior Sign
Universal Big League Dreams
Explaining My Profession to Non-Baseball Minds
Wasted Hat Collection
Dealing with Heckling Fans
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