All About Baseball Diary
Ever wonder what it is like playing in the major leagues? and especially for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Jack writes about some of his Glory Days.
Former major leaguer, Jack Perconte, is all about baseball, having played little league baseball all the way through the major leagues. Additionally, after completing his baseball-playing career, Jack has continued to be involved with baseball through his teaching of the game and writings. Jack shares his playing, coaching, and parenting experiences with baseball players, coaches, and parents to enhance their experiences with the game. Jack Perconte writes about his major league experiences to give readers a glimpse of the major league life.
All About Baseball – You Know you are in the Major Leagues When
“Hey buddy, take a hike, these cages are for big leaguers only” – you will never guess who I almost said this to, before realizing whom it was.
Sometimes life changes so much that it feels like you are hit with those tons of bricks. Of course, it can be a positive ton or a not so positive blow. Going from the minor leagues to the major leagues is obviously huge and not just because of the money, whereas going the other way is a big reality check (less). I am talking late 70’s and early 80’s here, of course – maybe things have changed between big leagues and minors, but probably not that much.
Sometimes, you just have to pinch yourself to be sure it is really happening
There are the obvious things that change when you get to the big leagues. No more airport terminals or carrying own bags to deal with, as it is right to the waiting plane on the runway and off to the next city, arriving before you are even ready to sleep after games. The minor leagues involve a 4 am wake up call, carrying own bags, changing flights, checking into a “minor league” hotel and arriving just in time to go to the next day’s game. In the “Bigs” you take taxis and even limos to the game (if you can hook up with one of your star veteran teammates) instead of old air-condition(less), school buses, as in the minors. Your post game meals are catered in from famous, local restaurants, instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, if that. Then there are the differences in the post-game nightclubs and amenities, but that is a story for another day, or maybe never.
Going to the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers made the jump even more dreamlike for me, with Hollywood in the immediate background. There is no doubt your life has changed with the big differences like stadiums, hotels, media coverage, pressure and meal money being the most obvious, but there are other unexpected things that let you know that you are not in Kansas anymore, no disrespect intended.
All About Baseball Hollywood Style
You know you are in the big leagues when Some City Slicker takes up your batting cage time
Before a game at Dodger Stadium, I am heading down to take some pre-game batting practice –“Shoot,” someone beat me to the cage. I do not recognize him at first, in his Dodger uniform. When you are a rookie, you worry about the big club calling up someone to take your place, so I begin to analyze immediately. Pretty good swing, I decide, but not big league material, so not too concerned. I am ready to ask him to clear out for a “big leaguer.” Finally, I get a closer look at him and it is comedian, actor Billy Crystal, a real BIG LEAGUER, so to speak. As I said, “Dodgerwood” is so cool; you never know whom you might run into. “Hey Billy, where did you learn to hit like that? comes out instead.
I had arrived in the “Big Show,” at least for moments like that, anyway. A common occurrence in Dodger land, with the coolest being the time I walked into the clubhouse after a game, only to run into Gregory Peck – are you kidding me, let me pick up my jaw before saying, “hey.”
You know you are in the big leagues when Big people calling little people – Was it real?
“Jack, there is a phone call for you,” a Mariner front office person approaches me before the game. Personal calls are never passed on in the clubhouse unless they are very important. Have I been traded, sent down, released? Little worried because some rumors have been floating around lately – something players learn to live with – but I would just be called into the manager’s office, if that were the case. Hope there is nothing wrong at home, is my next thought.
“Hello Jack, this is “Forget her name” the personal assistant to “Barron Hilton,” Yes, that one. “OK” is all I can say. “I just wanted to tell you how much Barron loves your play and he would feel real bad if you are traded.” Well, I appreciate that,” is all I can say.” “Yea, well the Baron has two favorite players, you and John Candelaria, and he just wanted you to know that and hopes you are not traded” “Ok, thanks,” pretty much ended it.
Was it real or a prank? Will never know, I guess, but I choose to believe it was real, as the “Punked” shows never came to let me know it was not real and the call was approved by the front office. Of course, if he liked me so much and did not want me traded, why didn’t he just buy the team, offer me a multi-year contract and “All’s well that ends well.” If anyone out there knows Barron Hilton, (I believe he is still alive), please ask if I was one of his favorites, or maybe just have his granddaughter Paris call me, and I will discuss it with her.
You know you are in the big leagues when “Hey kid, this is for you”
On promotion day at most professional baseball venues, the pre-game charity game between local media celebrities is just that. Many people no one really knows but have maybe heard their voices or their names usually play in those games. In LA, it is not your normal celebrities, but the real deal, where Hollywood all-stars take the field for charity. The likes of Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Nat King Cole have played in the LA games, as well as many current stars, which enjoy baseball. During one of those game, I struck up a nice conversation with actor, Mark Harmon (currently of NCIS Fame) – the coolest of dudes, at least to me. We talked all about baseball and some acting and Hollywood stuff. After the game, he flipped his “Hollywood Allstars” jersey to me, which I still have. Yep, Mark and me, sharing clothes, bonded forever.
AllAbout Baseball – Wecome to the Big Leagues Style
You know you are in the big leagues when Relatives, you never knew you had, come a calling
Hotel room phone rings – “Hey Jack, this is Tommy, wondering if you could leave me two tickets for tonight’s game.” “Hey Tommy, Tommy who?” I respond. “You know your Aunt Kate’s daughters husband.” Oh yea, how could I forget? “Have we ever met?” “No, but I will look you up after the game,” Tommy says. “OK, sure Tommy, I am positive my wife, close relatives and friends would rather me give my tickets to you than to them.”
You know you are in the big leagues when Adding up the bucks, or maybe not
As noted, big league, road meal money is so much greater than minor league money. I am going to save so much money every day is one of the first thoughts of the big league rookie. You go down to the big league hotel lobby for breakfast and ask the hotel clerk if there is a Denny’s restaurant nearby. Denny’s is a regular stop on the minor league circuit. I figure to get the Grand Slam Breakfast for $5, leave an awesome tip with all that meal money, and have a ton left over to save.
“Ha-ha,” laughs the clerk, “No Denny’s around these high roller hotels, but we have a great restaurant right here in the hotel.” “Awesome, I will try that.” It was awesome, but $45 worth of awesome and no baseball special like the Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast, so much for saving any meal money in the big leagues – disappointing, at first, but not enough to miss the minor league life, of course.