Written by Shelly Ruggiano
Wife to Justin Ruggiano

We leave for spring training in the middle of every February. The season starts in April. Then depending on where you play and if you are in the playoffs, the season could last through September and sometimes October. Then, you get a nice off season that always goes way too fast.

Well, sometimes you get an off season. A lot of minor league players don't. They pack up and play winter ball either in Mexico or somewhere in South America. It's a great gig. My husband loves baseball, he absolutely loves playing the game. So for us, it was the best way to make money in the off season. He played in Venezuela, which was just not safe enough for me to fly there with our son to visit. So we stayed back and missed Justin like crazy for six long weeks.

We had a new baby and new house and the extra money was needed.  Did you hear me? We had a new baby…and a new house..and I had to put on my big girl pants really quick so I could take care of all of that without Justin for six weeks. He missed Thanksgiving and barely made it to our Christmas celebration that year. But, I am so thankful that he did make it to our son's first Christmas! There are not too many flights out of Caracas on December 24th, but he found one!

I used to be a pretty indecisive person, but being married to Justin has made me become VERY decisive, very quick. I have to be the one to call the shots. Because when it comes down to it, I can't call my husband to ask for his advice. I had no way of calling him during winter ball, he had to call me. I could email…and then wait for what seemed like an eternity. Or I could dip into our savings and try to figure out how to call Venezuela, and then use my spanish  (I think I know two or three words) and try to contact Justin…only to find out that he is actually in a completely different city that night anyway (and, yes, I did that, but I didn't have to dip into savings, I was conveniently at my parents house when I made the call).

Not getting ahold of him is actually pretty normal, I am used to it during the season. Once Justin goes to the field, calling him is close to impossible. So winter ball wasn't too much different, except for the fact that if he was even one minute late calling me, I was convinced that he got kidnapped. Needless to say, I have learned over time, how to run a household, take car of our son, and call the shots on my own.  And besides, calling the shots isn't so bad when you are in the mall. Oops!

It was a tough six weeks, but looking back, it was nothing! I am beyond blessed to have my parents, my in-laws, my family, and friends to help, love, and support  us throughout all of our travels.



  1. Glad that you have a lot of support! You have a very cute blog and I am now following you!

  2. Be glad you only have to go through it for 6 weeks at a time. I have to do it from oct 15 to jan 30th :(

  3. My husband is from Venezuela and has been with the Pirates minor league system for 10 years. Winter ball sucks!!!! I hated every moment of it. Thank God he no longer does it!

  4. Hey Shelly, my name is Jimmy RUGGIANO....just pass it along to Justin. Don't know if we are related, But I do follow his career. Live in NY, went to a Mets/Marlins game in August w/my 6y/o son Gianni & just missed chatting with Justin b-4 the game............Now my son is curious too! Hope he has a great career.

  5. Hi Shelly my husband has been in proball 26 years and has coached and or managed in Venezuela going on 8 years. I refuse to go to Venezuela as we have 3 kids and I just don't think it's safe enough to go much less bring 3 kids with. He does come home for 3 days at Christmas:) It is difficult to be mom, dad, plumber, electrician, driver and maid while they are gone. However not just any woman can be married to a baseball player. It takes an extremely independent woman to live this lifestyle. ...and maybe a bit crazy:)