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Couple roll with up and downs of minor league life
They own no home, no furniture and, on Wednesday, Blair will pack all their possessions and make their ninth move. It’s the life of a couple in the minor leagues.
College sweethearts, Tyler proposed by candlelight in the classroom where they first met. She held off pursuing a career with her economics degree to follow his dream of playing professional baseball.
But as the novelty of the romantic adventure now turns into his fourth season of trying to make it, the reality of life in the minors is that it takes perseverance.
For Tyler, drafted in the eighth round out of Rice by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, his minor-league career has been a game of Chutes and Ladders. He started out in Class A in Batavia, N.Y., rose to Triple-A in Memphis and got demoted to Double-A in Springfield, Mo.
And just like that, she had to pack their life in Memphis and relocate to Springfield for a game the next day. A season-ending elbow injury last year sent the couple packing once again, but this time to Blair’s parents’ home in Florida while he rehabbed, so the two could save some money.
Tyler’s salary has ranged from $1,100 a month while in Batavia, to roughly $2,100 in Memphis.
“I call it reverse poor,” says Blair, a former all-conference tennis player at Rice. “We have money in the bank, but we don’t spend it because we don’t know how much longer it will have to last.”
Since 25-year-old Tyler only earns a salary during the season, he teaches baseball clinics in the offseason to earn extra money and 27-year-old Blair has been teaching tennis seven days a week. She wasn’t able to attend a single spring-training game this season and a rare glimpse of her husband at bat came as she ran to the television in between lessons at the tennis club to catch his appearance in a big league exhibition game against the Mets.
For Tyler, the sweet taste of those major league moments are often mixed with subtle reminders of the realities of still being a minor league player.
“I’m talking to my parents along the right-field sideline and these kids come running up to me because I’m dressed in a Cardinal uniform but they have no idea who I am,” he said. “I’m wearing number 90 with no name on the back and they hand me baseballs to sign with autographs of Lou Brock and Bob Gibson on it and I think to myself, ‘Man, they have no idea what they’re doing to this baseball, it was valuable before I signed it.’”
For Blair, after her own collegiate athletic career, playing the role of supporter was a challenge.
“It’s hard when you’re not the athlete,” she said. “If it were me after a bad day, I would just get back on the horse, but there’s no horse to get back onto when you’re the wife and there’s nowhere to put that emotion. When you’re in the stands watching, you’re feeling so helpless.”
By Tom Fitton
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