***The following article was written by Mike Recchia, former Chicago White Sox pitching prospect, as a guest of FutureSox (his second guest post with us). This is part of our Prospect Perspectives series: articles written by the players themselves. Recchia recently retired from professional baseball, having reached the AA level. It is a hard decision ballplayers will all face at some point, and here Mike give us a glimpse into what the decision looked like for a minor leaguer. We hope this gives our readers a unique view into a player’s perspective on life in the minors.***
By Mike Recchia
As Doctor Seuss once said… “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I’ve done everything I could in the game of baseball, and hoped and prayed for a shot in the “Show”. I figured after my great season last year maybe a September call up was even possible. It did not happen, but hell, I was extremely proud of what I accomplished that season.
During the offseason I worked at Party City making $8.25 an hour. I stocked costumes in the back room. Let me be honest. I treated it just like pitching. I made sure I did everything right and to make the boss proud.
About a month after Party city I got a much better paying job working for a family friend. This job paid a lot better but I worked at least 50 hours a week, and was waking up at 5am Monday through Saturday. The job put me in shape and I loved it. The waking up early never bothered me because with 2 kids, I don’t sleep much anyway. I don’t need the sleep other people need. Even during the season I’m up early [even after late night games]. But what I did realize was, I get to be home, with my wife and 2 kids (who will be two years old on May 16th).
I started to think about it.
Spring training came and I worked with AAA up until the last day, when I was informed I would be going back to AA. Of course I was a little pissed off, but I just would do what I always did. I’d work my ass off until they were forced to move me… or so I thought.
The season did not start off as I expected and after 3 starts I hurt my [latissimus dorsi] muscle. Bummed beyond belief because I had never been on the Disabled List before, I had a lot of time to think about my future. The injury was not serious at all. I just needed time off to get the muscle right. But I asked myself: is this what you want? With a cocky attitude, I can tell you that no one will out-compete me. I will just keep going and keep going.
But here was reality: my paycheck cleared $625 every 2 weeks during the season. After that I paid $250 in rent, $180 in clubhouse dues (lunch meat and peanut butter–no steak or lobster) and then had utilities I needed to pay for – and that’s not counting anything for my family back home. You can do the math. Change was needed.
I made the choice. MY choice. I chose to go back home and give up my dreams, in order to fulfill my kids’ dreams. I am their hero and heroes can’t be away all the time. I need to provide, and who knows if making the majors would have happened one day, but I have other options.
I’m happy! I’m happy to be home, and to be a family. I’ll probably come out of retirement at 35 when my kids are older because I’ll still be in great shape. Probably better shape. I never failed, I just had a new dream.
I am grateful each and every day about the friendships I made, the experiences I had and the fun. People told me I actually made it. I never thought of it that way, but in some way I probably did. I won’t cry because it’s over. I’m smiling because it happened!
And now back to watching Frozen with my kiddos. Take care, and thank you all!
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