Written by Cat Miller, ghostwriter for The Life of the Baseball Wife.
B and I have been together for almost ten years, since we were seventeen. A lot can happen in that time and I’ve learned that when in crisis, B is the man for the job. Calm and level headed, he handles each situation without panic. That’s what makes him a strong guy out of the pen. In all these years, we’ve also learned that I am not that type of person. The type of person I am isn’t really built to go through the highs and lows of a baseball life, but I’ve tried my best to always act somewhat calm during every situation that had faced us. That was until B was traded.
We’ve been fortunate so far in my husband’s career. He hasn’t played in the majors very long, but was drafted high, invited to the fall league, and called up all at a relatively decent pace. In the past two seasons he spent in the majors, we finally started to feel something that is so rare in baseball life, stablity. He was pitching well, working hard, and still getting paid league minimum, which always seems to make a team happy. We felt content in our life and routine to the extent that we would actually look at the schedule for the next season to plan. Another word rarely used in baseball; plan. A plan usually goes awry in baseball life, so B and I have left most of our planning up in the air till the day before something needed to be figured out. In this case however, we had started to plan, settle down, and were in the process of buying a small house closer to the field.
We were on a day trip to the mountains in December when B got the call from the GM. A missed call on the phone because he had no signal. I asked who it was and he said the GM with a laugh. “That’s never a good sign”, he said. This isn’t something you should tell a wife that handles change so poorly, but the wheels were already in motion whether I panicked or not. It was official, he had been traded a day after we had signed the monumental stack of papers and dropped off the check on our dream house to be. I was in shock. I guess we felt the ‘it’ll never happen to us’ kind of feeling. At least not now. We had seen a few friends get traded and had met friends through trades. They were mostly guys with lots of experience in the majors or highly touted prospects. B was never mentioned in trade talks, always flown relatively under the radar. We were completely blindsided. My first reaction (which is probably not the best option) was to burst into tears. Our life had changed within a phone call. I was upset and confused, but tried to collect myself to make an effort to be a supportive wife and see how B was feeling. He said he was fine, was told that he was the only one with options in the pen and would probably get sent back to the minors no matter how he performed in spring. He was being given a good chance with his new team. Then we drove home for what felt like hours with me slightly containing my grief and erupting in tears every now and then. B bribed me with a big Starbucks in an attempt to quell my emotions with caffeine. It worked for the rest of the drive.
Even when a trade is a good thing, you still go through some sort of grief. At least in my case I did. By morning, B was still fine looking up reports on his new team and apartments near the field. I woke up like in a movie, staring at the ceiling thinking that maybe it had all been a dream. It wasn’t, and in one quick moment a flood of panic hit me again. THE HOUSE. We had been told to drop off our check between Monday and Wednesday of that week to confirm the house. In most cases that check would have been there Wednesday afternoon. B and I are procrastinators who met at a party college, but in a vain attempt to pretend to be adults had dropped off the check and signed papers Monday morning. He was traded 2,000 miles away by Tuesday night. I was still in denial that everything was happening, but this switched me to the next stage of grief pretty quickly; anger. What were we thinking buying a house!? B had been fortunate enough to be drafted by a team that had spring training and season all in one place. It was beautiful, spring would end season would start and you’d just take a different freeway to the game. No packing up, no moving or shipping cars. We had been spoiled, which is why we thought buying a house in the area would be fine. Then it was not. We called our realtor, who said we could pull out of the house but lose the deposit. No, that wasn’t going to work. Then came the sobbing again.
I can’t stress enough that this was a rough period and that it might be harder on the wives than the guys. It’s a lot and any girl that goes through this shouldn’t feel bad for going a little crazy while trying to get through it. Fielding in laws during all of it might be a long process too. You’ll get a lot of calls saying “it’s just like a job transfer” and “it’ll all be for the best” and “well now what am I supposed to do with all my team gear? I’ll have to buy new stuff!” Those people are trying to help, but they really don’t understand that a job transfer is something you apply for and prepare for and a trade is much different. It’s a complete life change when you are unprepared. It’s sad and exciting at the same time and you don’t know what to feel but you know that crying is not helping you or the skin around your eyes anymore. Buy an expensive face cream if your husband gets traded. You’re going to need it to combat all the crying.
By the miracle of “extenuating circumstances” we were able to get our deposit back on the house, but it left me so depressed. We had finally tried to plan and feel stable. Buying that house gave us some kind of feeling that B had made it. Those five years of long distance and the future chiropractic bills from sleeping on an air mattress in the minors had been worth it. It was definitely harder for B to lose the house than me. It was the only time he cracked. He had felt accomplished. 25 and buying a second house (we were living in our tiny condo at the time). He was proud, and to lose the house made him feel like he was letting us down. He wasn’t, but the emotions of the trade had started to take over. He had been drafted by this team, played with them for five years. Everything he knew in baseball since college had been this team and it was gone. It was sad to leave the people we had known and terrifying to think of doing it all over again. I would attempt to give my rousing speeches (thank goodness I never led an army to battle) about how we were a team of two and that we would get through this somehow, but they all seemed to fizzle at the fact that we were just sad and we had to ride it out.
By the time Christmas came around we were feeling better and B was beyond thrilled to be on his new team. We had decided that in these past two years we had become a little stagnant. Two 25 year olds, living in the suburbs doing the same old thing every day. The past us would have never let that happen. We met on the first day of college and had spent the past years up until the draft traveling, and exploring. Who needs to go to a Sandals for a honeymoon when we can go to Egypt?! That was definitely one of our more poor fated adventures. We had lived in the city, and loved trying new things, but in the whirlwind of baseball we had become a little dull. Go to the field, come back, go to sleep. Repeat. Maybe stable wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and we needed something new. We decided to take it as an adventure. Move back to the city with his new team and actually be 25.
At the point when I’m writing this it’s spring training. B’s new complex is beautiful and he’s golfing with the new guys he’s met. He is the happy, weather the storm type of person he always has been. We still have our days of grief. Like when we found out the apartment will cost us more than the mortgage our house would have been, but those feelings tend to subside. The field is an hour away from our condo, so for now B lives in the team hotel and I commute back and forth to visit after work. It’s do-able and leaves us hopeful that this season will bring a lot of great things for us and a little more excitement than being comfortable ever brought. Comfortable is relative to your own situation. We were comfortable in our lives; we had been comfortable while B played in the minors (at least as comfortable as an air mattress can make you), but sometimes it’s the things that make you most uncomfortable that lead you to the best adventures.
(A note from Nicole: When I asked around for a story on a trade, Cat came to me with this great piece. I had never been through a trade before and wanted to hear from other girls that had been there. I hope you enjoyed her honest depiction of how she felt and her emotions through the transition in their career and life as much as I did)