When baseball players become popular and receive big paychecks, fans immediately start criticizing their pay and how they don’t deserve it because they just stand around or whatever. Baseball is the highest paying sport out of all sports, and that is because the season is the longest. The MLB season is 162 games, that isn’t including practices, spring training, and the playoffs and other workouts. MLB players truly devote their whole life to earning that big paycheck at some point in their career, and they go through a lot more than some people would expect.
As some MLB players are born rich, many others go through poverty. This is very popular in the MLB due to the presence of many players coming from outside countries to play such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, China, Japan, and more. Not every MLB player practiced their whole life on a turf baseball field with a glove and baseball. Many players had to find other objects to play ball with due to the inability to afford to pay for these items.
We see our share of poor MLB players, but there are also many rich folks who find an easier way into the pros because of the money they have or the connections they have. In sports, especially baseball, many families carry a tradition of having family members play the sport and become professionals. As we sympathize those who made it through the struggles to make it to the MLB, some people practically could have paid their way in.
15 Earned His Money: Josh Hamilton
One of the most inspiring stories we have ever heard of in MLB history, comes from a man who dealt with drug and alcohol abuse for a good amount of time in his life. Josh Hamilton struggled to always stay on the good side of things for a while, as he seemed to always be doing the wrong things. But 2003 began the decline of Josh Hamilton. Failed drug tests, missing practices, all led to him missing three years of baseball.
During the time of his suspension, he smashed the wind shield of a friend’s truck, which led to his release as well as his suspension throughout the 2006 season. Hamilton continued to do the wrong things, but a miracle happened. Hamilton eventually made his way to Texas, where he played for the Texas Rangers. Hamilton was able to get back on his feet and play ball again. Not only did Hamilton just play again, but he was great. In 2010, Hamilton was so good that he was awarded the AL MVP Award.
14 Born Into It: Barry Bonds
What a story would it be to know that the all-time home runs leader in MLB history went from poverty to fame. It would be great, but unfortunately that’s not the way this story goes. Barry Bonds was born from a family of fame. His father, Bobby Bonds, was a former right fielder for the San Francisco Giants. Having a great 14-year career with seasons where he had up to 37 home runs and 115 RBIs, Barry Bonds was bound to eventually live to the fame that his father did.
Unlike most people, Bonds’ aunt was also a familiar face. Rosie Bonds competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics in the 80 meter women’s hurdles. Rosie eventually gave up on running, when she became a doctor. Barry was always around fame, which kind of led him to become one of the most popular baseball players to ever live.
13 Earned His Money: Albert Pujols
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was a very poor place, but yet many famous MLB players have battled through poverty there and now have become the stars of professional baseball. First baseman of the Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols, also battled a rough life in Santa Domingo being an only child. On top of the poverty, Pujols’ father was an alcoholic which interfered with Pujols life. At times, Pujols would actually have to take care of his father.
In Santo Domingo, like many other baseball players, he would play baseball using limes as the ball and milk cartons as a glove. This method seemed to work for many players as it was a frequent way for many MLB players to learn the game of baseball before they were handed plenty of gloves and baseballs when entering the pros. In 1996, Pujols, his father and grandmother eventually left the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York City. We now see Pujols go back to Dominican Republic to give back to the community.
12 Born Into It: Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander doesn’t have much of an interesting back story to show that he has money, but not all the time are things like this published to the public. Unlike many players who struggled in other countries to eat and what not, Verlander lived a comfortable life with supportive parents. Verlander’s parents were always there rooting him on when he competed in little league games.
The family did have enough money to see Verlander off to The Richmond Baseball Academy. At this present time, the academy’s private sessions run for about $45 per half hour, and the cheapest camp being around $155. Prices for many baseball academies aren’t cheap, and parents need to be making a good amount of money to be able to afford to send their child off to these camps. To say the least, Verlander did not seem to be deprived of anything.
11 Earned His Money: Mariano Rivera
One of the most beautiful stories in the MLB, the story of former New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera. Rivera was from Panama, in a poor two that was known for fishing. Rivera Sr. was the captain of a fishing boat, but wasn’t enough to allow Rivera and his siblings to live the life they may have wanted. Like Pujols, Rivera also used milk cartons as a baseball glove but also used tree branches as baseball bats.
Rivera at one point dropped out of school, and worked six days a week on a commercial boat catching sardines. Rivera wanted to become a mechanic, which ended up leading to the end of his career working on the boats with his father. Rivera worked hard to pursue a dream also as a pitcher for a professional baseball team. Through all the hardships that Rivera faced, he accomplished one of the most amazing things you can accomplish as a closer in the MLB: the MLB career saves record.
10 Born Into It: Dee Gordon
Dee Gordon has become one of the most beloved players in Miami, after his father played a career with eight different teams. Gordon was also born into money, after his father had a stunning career that led him to his nick name of “Flash.” With his father who just finished his career not even ten years ago, we can see that Dee Gordon wasn’t playing with milk cartons and tree branches to practice. He did have a rough early life, with the killing of his mother. Gordon has led to begin a successful career at second baseman.
Gordon may fall into some problems as he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, which may affect his net worth in the future. Gordon was raised luckily by a former professional baseball player which helped get his foot in the door as a middle infielder.
9 Earned His Money: Pedro Martinez
It’s crazy to believe that some of these MLB players once lived in a small shack, but now play on some of the biggest stages of sports. Pedro Martinez, was one of those players, and actually was able to perform at a high level at some of the biggest stages. Martinez was from Santo Domingo as many others, growing up six siblings in a very small, dirty house. Pedro had both of his parents around, which may be a positive out of this. But his mother actually had to worth for wealthy people in order to make her money.
We see a new way to make baseballs, as Pedro used oranges to play the sport. Pedro’s brother, Ramon Martinez was actually pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers at their camp in the Dominican Republic. Pedro used to go with his older brother, which led to him being signed by the Dodgers in 1988.
8 Born Into It: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This guy over here sounds familiar, and his father used to be a fan favorite. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has still yet to see the field in the MLB, but is a part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. If he is anything like his father, Blue Jays have a reason to be excited for the future. For a son whose father has a net worth of about $60 million, Guerrero Jr. doesn’t have to worry about money going into the MLB.
For years fans were excited to watch Vladimir Guerrero Sr. knock home runs out of different ball parks, as well as gun down many runners with the strong arm he had. Guerrero Sr. was a fan favorite, which wouldn’t be shocking why his son wouldn’t be either. Guerrero Jr. has the ability to easily make a splash in the MLB after the legacy his father left.
7 Earned It: Rubby De La Rosa
The average life of an American boy may be simple when it comes to having fun playing sports and may be working. In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the life of a young boy trying to find his path in life could be a struggle. Poverty struck the life of Rubby De La Rosa since he was born, when his mother sent him to live with his grandmother because of the inability to help him survive.
De La Rosa’s mother tried to help and be around as much as possible, but in a poor area it was tough. De La Rosa said how many times he had very few meals to eat back in Dominican Republic. De La Rosa worked at a young age to help provide food for his family, while trying to balance out baseball and school as well. At 18 years old, De La Rosa eventually signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, making his way out of poverty and to the pros.
6 Born Into It: Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder, unlike many players, not only had a father that was a legendary MLB player, but even became a pop star. Fielder’s father, Cecil Fielder, was one of the great power hitters in the 1980s and 1990s. His success helped lead to his son’s fame. Prince would always be hanging around the clubhouse when his father was playing or at practice, always having that ability to be around that MLB lifestyle. At one point, Prince and his father even made an appearance on MTV Rock N’ Jock Softball.
Prince was living the dream. Getting the opportunity to hang around his father’s professional baseball player friends and getting to be at the ball park all the time. Prince was around the atmosphere, which eventually led him to his own personal career in the MLB.
5 Earned His Money: Andrew McCutchen
Many of the players that we hear about that grow through poverty are usually from other countries such as the Dominican Republic and Panama. Here we have a similar situation from a young boy in Fort Meade, Florida. Andrew McCutchen, hasn’t always lived the fame that he currently does being the star player of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Many American boys have their parents pay for them to go to showcases and away for tournaments playing for travel teams, it’s a lot of money. McCutchen never got that opportunity, his parents barely could afford to even pay for him to have baseballs and bats.
The reason McCutchen eventually was able to play for a travel team, was because of an AAU coach, Jimmy Rutland. Rutland took over and helped pay for what McCutchen needed to play travel ball, while McCutchen’s parents took care of the food and living needed for him to survive.
4 Born Into It: Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter may have the family that America would love to have by the looks of what it seems on television. Jeter’s parents always seemed to be at many games cheering their son on, being as supportive as possible to one of the great Yankee legends. His mother was an accountant, and his father was a doctor. Jeter lived a comfortable life, with what seemed to be no financial hardships compared to many other MLB players. When he was younger he used to attend Yankees games with his grandparents, showing that compared to others, Jeter never seemed to struggle.
Jeter enjoyed some of the luxuries that other players on this list were never able to enjoy. While Jeter was able to watch what became his future franchise team live, other players struggled to even put food down their throats to survive.
3 Earned His Money: Jackie Robinson
Not only was Jackie Robinson one of the most iconic MLB players in history, but he is an icon in America’s history. Robinson broke the color barrier, as he became the first African American baseball player to ever play in the professional league. With segregation going on and whites and blacks being separated, Robinson went and played in a league filled with whites, which changed the game forever.
Jackie Robinson’s mother had to work multiple jobs to help her family survive. Living in a cruel time, Jackie Robinson and his family struggled to participate in what would now be daily recreational activities. Robinson struggled as a child to fit in, being an African American male trying to have all the freedoms that whites have. Robinson made a huge impact when breaking the color barrier, which led many different types of people to now play in the league which is now filled with people from many different countries.
2 Born Into It: Mike Piazza
How many professional baseball players can say that they were millionaires before the thought of even becoming a MLB player was an idea? No one. Mike Piazza however lived in wealth his whole life. His father, Vince Piazza, was a millionaire who had over $100 million from used cars and real estate. Multiple times, Vince actually tried to use his money to purchase a MLB team. That would be interesting to see a star catcher’s father own a professional baseball team.
Even though Vince’s thoughts of becoming a professional baseball player ended at a young age, that didn’t stop him from trying his best to make his son become one of the greatest catchers to play the game. Vince paid for Mike Piazza to actually have private lessons in his backyard, from the legend Ted Williams. Vince Piazza did whatever it took to make sure that his son would eventually make the big leagues.
1 Yasiel Puig (Earned His Money)
For a long time, Americans weren’t even able to enter the country of Cuba. Yasiel Puig, stuck in a poor country, tried many times to leave his country to have a new beginning. Puig was never successful, as he was unable to make it, or find a way without being caught by the Coast Guard. Puig tried using garbage bags sometimes on a boat trying to make his way to the free country, but it never worked.
One day, Puig managed to make his way into Mexico, and he was free. After all the struggles and hardships to make it, Puig eventually signed a $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though Puig is now in the land of the free, he still deals with many hard ships. At the end of the 2013 season, Puig was arrested for driving over the speed limit at 110mph. Puig may be a great ball player, but after many tries of trying to escape his country, he still may deal with some off the field issues.