Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Alex Meyer is a rare breed in today's baseball landscape — and not just for his 6-foot-9 frame. When he's not involved in a team organized event or spending time in the offseason honing his craft, the 23-year-old right-hander goes back to his roots in Greensburg, Ind and morphs into Mr. Meyers — a substitute teacher in the Greensburg school district. His payout for a day's work: $63.
It sounds humbling, but back in the old days Meyer would have been just another major leaguer earning his offseason keep. Before the days of free agency and guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts, it wasn't at all uncommon for players to seek work in the winter months. And most would have done cartwheels for $63 a day. Just about every player — from minor leaguers to Hall of Famers — held an offseason job, including Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Don Newcombe, who all were known to sell men's clothes for department stores.
Fast forwarding to as recently as 1974, Lou Brock wanted to earn extra money in his off months, which is part of the reason he opened a flower shop.
For many, it was a necessary means to stay ahead. For others, it helped them live more comfortably. But as the years have gone by and the salaries have grown to astronomical figures, players have been able to ditch the part-time gigs in favor of offseason training programs that make baseball their life all year round.
Meyer could be in that boat as well. Drafted 23rd overall by the Washington Nationals in 2011 (and then traded to the Twins in 2012), he's already comfortable after signing a $2 million contract. But it's not about the money. It's about the experience, the interaction with students, and perhaps, at a time later in his life, the pursuit of an entirely new living.
"Hopefully, I'm able to play baseball and have a nice, long career," Meyer told the Indianapolis Star's David Woods. "But you never know what's going to happen with that. So you've always got to be able to have something on the ready."
"Being able to be a substitute teacher puts me in a real-life atmosphere and lets me know if this is something I really want to do or not," he noted. "So far, it is."
Meyer isn't basing his opinion on a small sample size either. This is actually his third offseason working as a substitute in the school district, and to this point he's drawing rave reviews. But wouldn't you know, it actually took a little nudging from mom to get the ball rolling on his offseason job.
His father, David, owns a Ford dealership near the I-74 exit. His mother, Sandy, is a secretary in the school superintendent's office. It was Meyer's mother who suggested subbing after he conceded he was bored and had nothing to do.
Meyer liked it "from the very get-go," he said.
When mom speaks, always listen.
The Indianapolis Star delves much deeper into Meyer's experience as a substitute teacher, including a look at what his daily schedule can look like on any given day. It's a really good read and a fun story all the way through. If you have a few moments be sure to check it out.
Looking for more baseball chatter?
- - - - - - -