Ghostwriter for The Life of the Baseball Wife
I was sitting here thinking, “What in the world can I tell people about the lives in the Minor Leagues?”
I’m not sure I’ll get any sympathy on this one. However, if I start at that uncomfortable place, the one that permeates our lives even though I try my best to keep it away, maybe you’ll better understand some of the stress in our “almost-charmed” lives.
Ray I and got married pretty quickly. We were pretty young. We were definitely dreamers (although at the time we didn’t think we were dreaming).
Ray wasn’t a top signed prospect, but that first season he had he was fantastic. He was living in a small town in the South with an extremely kind family. They loved their minor league baseball team and they knew that at less than $500 a month Ray wasn’t going to be paying much rent, eating, and starting to repay those 2 years of college loans. They offered him a room and a family. He would wake up to home cooked meals, his laundry done for him, and kind people to spend his time with. He was only too happy to accept.
Over the next three years Ray exceeded any and all expectations. Not much had been expected of him, to be fair. He was signed as a serviceable signing. He was a smart guy who could move into the front office when he realized he’d never make it to the Big Leagues. Then he started pitching well enough to be a leader in almost every pitching category. He wasn’t surprised. At the time, I wasn’t either. I knew very little about baseball and figured that Ray was the greatest baseball player in the world anyway, so what was the big deal?
Over the next few years Ray made his Major League Debut, was optioned down, recalled, and traded. Then he went to the minor leagues on his new team. He struggled. He had another call up and was sent back down. He was put on waivers one spring training. Then he was picked up, in the big leagues, struggled and put on waivers, cleared, and back to the minors. Then he was recalled, waived, picked up,… You see the pattern emerging.
Through all this we tried to be together.
As a young bride I always felt Ray had another love greater than me. He seemed to be having an affair all the time. I couldn’t, as much as I tried, pull him away from that love. I still, to this day, haven’t gotten him to admit to it, either.
I’m not saying I didn’t understand.
He had wanted to play baseball since he was in the womb would be my guess. But don’t we all grow up? Hadn’t he met me and said I was important enough that he wanted to change his very existence and marry me? At times I think, “Is this job really worth the aggravations?”
Then I realize I’m the one who’s aggravated, not him.
My dear husband is truly thankful to be playing baseball and to be getting paid for it. He will play until they pull the uniform off his back. He sees his privilege and his luck at having a job most would give their right arm for. I lose perspective sometimes.
When other people perform at their jobs they are recognized for it. If they aren’t, they put together their resume and find new employment. In baseball it’s not like that. You are literally owned by the team that signs you. You can be called up and sent down at their discretion based on their current needs. Through all that, I was always there for Ray. I felt like, no, let’s be honest, I still feel at times like the standby best friend/girlfriend who you know will always be there so you can cast her aside while you pursue the Head Cheerleader. I’m the “wannabe” Love of Ray’s life.
Even as I write this I think, “Geez lady, If that’s how you feel, leave him.”
The problem is I Love Him. He loves me. It’s just that being so successful at his job, he knows that he can continue to succeed.
So I allow the object of his affair into our marriage. It permeates our lives. I watch as he works so hard to woo it. I encourage him in his pursuit. But there is also that nagging feeling of loneliness, of sadness, of frustration when I want all of Ray. He doesn’t have it all to give me.
You remember when you first would drink alcohol? I know, for me, it was all about the chasing the buzz. I loved to drink the hard stuff - vodka and tonic with cranberry juice. I’d drink them all night long. I loved how I felt and how much fun I had.
The hangover the next morning... I didn’t love that.
I would still go out and drink though.
Then, as time moved on, I would be more refined in my drinking to try to miss the hangover. I’d have one glass of water between each vodka. Then I switched to wine. Then it was beer. Each time the hangover would be a little less, but it would be still there.
Nowadays the drink is part of who I am. I’m Cassidy, the wife who will have two beers before the seventh inning and then nurse that last one after the taps are turned off. Somedays I wake up tired and dragging. Somedays I don’t. I know I would feel so much better if I’d just stop drinking, the hangover wouldn’t happen. But each night I still call that beer vendor over thinking, “Tomorrow will be different” even though deep down somewhere I know it probably won’t be.
I read once that “Loneliness is the ultimate poverty."
This resonates with me.
I think that most people, outside of baseball, see the lights, the money, the travel.
They don’t think about the flip side - the time away from your family and friends. The hours that the player spends either in bars, strip clubs, on his computer, Play Station, playing cards, whatever he does to pass the time.
It’s not as if you have the image of a ballplayer sitting in his hotel room (and it’s an old unrenovated Holiday Inn with two double beds and that really odd smell that you can’t quite pinpoint) with his roommate playing Madden until 4 am.
You imagine the ballplayer staying in the Westin, having his bags carried, going to Morton’s for dinner and sitting in the VIP section of some cool club. Either way, he’s still alone. Sure he may be surrounded by lots of fans and making a ton of money, but he’s experiencing much of this charmed life without his family at his side.
His wife and family are at home, alone, too. There is a lot of loneliness. The ballplayer has to be completely and totally in love with baseball to make the loneliness worth it.
Loneliness becomes a reason that the affair is more entrenched for the family. To accept the time apart the Love has to be immense. His affair runs our marriage. I’m to blame, too. I let it. But after fifteen years, the affair has become an integral part of our marriage, too. I have learned to embrace Ray’s other love even while, at times, hating it.
But tell me this, would you want anyone, ever, to tell you to stop living your dreams?
If you’re good enough to support your family and your lifestyle would you want to be told it’s time to move on?
I don’t think so. I married Ray, “For Better of For Worse.”
When I am the object of Ray’s affection, when everything‘s going well, is most definitely the best time. When he is in the minor leagues and we must be apart because money is tight and we have bills to pay so he‘s living with another player or two to make that minor league paycheck stretch, it‘s not the best, but certainly it’s not the worst we’ve endured together, either.
Thanks for reading.