The next time you’re using Uber, your driver could be a moonlighting baseball player. Reliever Evan Phillips is one of a number of Orioles who have had non-baseball jobs in school or when playing in the minors.
Phillips was living in Raleigh, North Carolina in the winter of 2016 and decided to make some extra money driving for Uber. One day, he got into a discussion with a passenger, who remarked that his friend had a friend who played professional baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization.
“What’s his name?” Phillips asked.
“Evan Phillips,” he answered.
Some Orioles were more easily recognized when they had winter jobs. During an enforced break from college, reliever Paul Fry worked at a Speedway gas station in Waterford, Michigan.
“I worked at the cash register, taking garbage out,” Fry said. “I saw a lot of people that I knew.”
While playing professionally, Fry also worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the winter in the team sports department and selling cardio equipment.
Another of Fry’s colleagues in the bullpen, Dan Straily, also worked at Dick’s, but trained as a firefighter in high school because his father was a fire chief in Oregon.
A number of Orioles have never had jobs outside of baseball, including Dylan Bundy, Josh Lucas, Trey Mancini, Renato Nunez, Rio Ruiz, Pedro Severino, Jonathan Villar, Stevie Wilkerson and Gabriel Ynoa.
It’s common for players such as Nunez, who’s from Venezuela, and Severino, Villar and Ynoa, from the Dominican Republic, to be signed as teenagers and begin playing instead of working.
That’s not the case with all Dominicans. Hanser Alberto began working at age 8. His father had a cafeteria, and he worked there until he was 14, and also helped his uncle, who was also in the food service business.
“I came from a humble family, working class, and I had to help put food on the table,” Alberto said.
Miguel Castro, who’s also from the Dominican Republic, helped his father, who owned a butcher shop. He helped his father by getting groceries and butchering meat.
Andrew Cashner and Castro have something in common. Cashner, who is from Conroe, Texas, outside Houston, worked at a meat processor, cutting animal meat, making link sausage, breakfast sausage and beef jerky. Cashner also worked on a surveying crew.
While David Hess was in college, he worked at “Dollywood,” the Tennessee amusement park, which is partly owned by Dolly Parton. He sold lemonade at a concession stand.
“I was there for a summer mission thing,” Hess said. “It was OK. You had to wear a pretty stuffy costume. I had to wear Dickie work pants, short-sleeve plaid button-down shirt, suspenders and an old railroad hat. It was hot out there.”
Several other Orioles worked in the heat. Richard Bleier, who’s from Fort Lauderdale, has had a number of jobs in the offseason, working on yachts, doing fiberglass repair, carpentry work and painting. He also delivered pizza in North Miami Beach for the shop owned by his brother-in-law’s family. He delivered from 7 p.m-3 a.m., and said the tips were good.
Chris Davis went into business mowing yards with a friend in high school, and also worked in a Longview, Texas restaurant called, “The Butcher Shop,” as a cashier.
Reliever Shawn Armstrong also mowed lawns for five years and had 25 regular customers. “I didn’t come from a very wealthy family,” he said. After he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, his father took over the mowing business.
Keon Broxton’s high school coach in Lakeland, Florida owned a Chick-Fil-A.
“I ate there every day for lunch, and I loved it,” Broxton said. “They have the best ice cream on the planet. Then I worked in a cattle cash feed store, ringing up bales of hay, bringing out cow food. Anything you need for a farm.”
Catcher Austin Wynns, who’s at Triple-A Norfolk, spent the offseason of 2015 at a Costco in suburban San Diego, where he grew up. Wynns stocked beer, wine and liquor from 2-10 a.m.
“It was interesting work for sure,” Wynns said. “I did early shift so no one would notice. Reflecting back on it, it definitely made you appreciate what you have.”
Tim Cossins, the Orioles’ major league field coordinator and catching coach, has had a number of interesting offseason jobs.
He did electrical work for two years as an apprentice. “I sold cars, which I was terrible at.” Cossins also worked for his father, who was a beverage distribution manager and for wineries, even though he doesn’t drink wine. He liked that job because he could converse with nearly anyone about wine.
But his favorite job was selling guitars in Santa Rosa, California, his hometown.
“I’m a hack. I’m a terrible guitar player,” Cossins said. “My brother’s a musician. He plays the bass.”
Richie Martin admired his father, who’s a retired special education teacher in Florida, so he was a substitute teacher for a few weeks.
John Means also spent time subbing at his offseason home in Kansas, but it wasn’t what he expected.
“I thought it was going to be more babysitting, but I did some teaching, too,” he remembers.
“I thought it was going to be throw-in-a-movie and call it a day, but it wasn’t that easy. Elementary school music, that was awful. There were no chairs in the classroom, kids were K-6, they were running all around. I couldn’t control it very well. They were practicing for a musical. It was before Christmas, so they were practicing Christmas music, and I had to sing with them. It wasn’t pretty.”
After that, learning the changeup wasn’t so hard for Means.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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