The number of retired professional baseball players still working in or around the game in some capacity is simply staggering. Anyone who has been following the 2015 MLB Playoffs has seen retired big leaguers in the dugouts of eight of the ten teams to make the playoffs, not to mention all the former players calling the game from the broadcasting booth or offering pre- and post-game analysis.
During the League Championship Series alone, fans watching at home can find retired players on their television screen before, during and after each game. The NLCS, for example, features Ron Darling and Cal Ripken, Jr. doing color commentary while Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and Dusty Baker provide pre-game analysis. Fans watching the ALCS are treated to the witticisms of Harold Reynolds in the booth while Pete Rose, Frank Thomas and Raul Ibanez -- among others -- offer the pre-game analysis.
And that’s only for the playoffs. During the season, just about every telecast has one or more retired players working the broadcast and coaching staffs from the lowest level of the minors all the way up to the big-leagues are loaded with former players as well. The MLB Network regularly features retired players in its programming and even those who don’t find work in coaching or broadcasting still find ways to stay involved in the game somehow, often running baseball academies or hosting camps.
With so many former players maintaining a high level of visibility following the end of their playing days, it’s almost hard to believe that retired big leaguers even attempt to take on anything other than baseball-related work. That is simply not the case, and there are indeed a number of players who retired to find “regular” jobs. The following 15 former big leaguers work in a variety of interesting capacities in diverse industries, and many have excelled in roles that might be somewhat surprising.
15 John Rocker – Conservative Columnist
Rocker, a polarizing closer whose brief dominance was overshadowed by frequently outlandish and offensive remarks, served as the inspiration for Kenny Powers, the self-destructive protagonist of the HBO series Eastbound and Down. In an apparent bit of life imitating art, Rocker has written an autobiography and is currently working as a writer, the same career Kenny Powers aspired to and which frequently served as the show’s narrative device.
The man who once compared Manhattan to Beirut and described New York subway riders as including “some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids,” is now a regular columnist for World Net Daily, a conservative website that bills itself as the “Largest Christian Website in the World.” Some of Rocker’s more recent columns feature headlines like, “Leftist lunatics: You needn't stay in America,” “We the People? More like we the dopes,” and “At least Israelis know their leader loves their country.”
14 Doug Mirabelli – Real Estate
Mirabelli, a 12-year pro who won two World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, was best known for backing up Sox catcher Jason Varitek while serving as knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher. In retirement, Mirabelli moved to the real estate industry, where he has worked as a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Michigan. In addition to his work as a realtor, the two-time World Series champ recently accepted a position as a volunteer assistant with the University of Florida’s softball team.
13 Adrian Cardenas – Writer
Cardenas’ career was brief -- he played in just 45 games during one big-league season with the Chicago Cubs -- but he did manage to play long enough to break up A.J. Burnett’s no-hit bid in 2012. Cardenas explained why he chose to leave the game by saying, “I quit because baseball was sacred to me until I started getting paid for it. The more that ‘baseball’ became synonymous with ‘business,’ the less it meant to me, and I saw less of myself in the game every time I got a check from the Philadelphia Phillies Organization, the Oakland Athletic Company, or the Chicago Cubs, L.L.C.”
After quitting baseball at the age of 24 with just one big-league season under his belt, Cardenas enrolled at NYU to study creative writing and philosophy and he is now pursuing an MFA in Film from the university. While still enrolled at NYU, Cardenas has had his poetry published and has written several pieces for The New Yorker and CNN, covering everything from his brief baseball career to his father’s repeated attempts to escape from Cuba.
12 Jody Gerut – Personal Finance
Gerut spent parts of six seasons in the majors as an outfielder with five different teams. Often occupying a role as a platoon player, Gerut is now working as a player agent for the Wasserman Media Group, where his focus is on personal finance. The Stanford-educated Gerut earned a license from the SEC to work as an investment adviser and has stated it is his goal to better educate players regarding the many financial pitfalls unique to professional athletes, saying he wants to create an identity as “the anti-bankruptcy agent."
11 Dan Serafini – Bar Owner
Serafini’s professional baseball career includes parts of seven big-league seasons along with extensive time spent in Japan, Mexico and the Atlantic League. Serafini last pitched professionally while playing in the Mexican League in 2013 and his post-playing career has included ownership of the Oak Tavern (formerly known as The Bullpen at Aspen Glen before being rebranded), a bar that was featured on the Spike TV program Bar Rescue.
10 Brian Johnson – Diversity Consultant
A catcher with eight years of big-league experience who was a central part of some big moments in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, Johnson will long be remembered in San Francisco for the walk-off, 12th-inning homer that spurred the Giants to the NL West title in 1997. Johnson retired in 2001 and is now a regional director for The Kaleidoscope Group, a national diversity firm focused on business development consulting. Johnson also spent some time working as a mortgage banker with JPMorgan Chase and his current role with Kaleidoscope has him focused on diversity training, where he educates employees on issues concerning age, gender and religion in the workplace.
9 Byung-Hyun Kim – Restaurateur
A former All-Star closer, Kim spent nine years in the majors and recorded 36 saves while posting a 2.04 ERA and striking out 92 batters over 84 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002, easily his best season as a pro. Kim also earned a World Series ring with the D’Backs in 2001 despite a rough showing in which he gave up five runs -- and three home runs -- in just 3.1 innings of relief work. Out of baseball since 2007, Kim is now a co-owner of Umi Sushi, a sushi restaurant in San Diego. The restaurant features some of Kim’s pro baseball memorabilia and claims to serve “the best sushi in town.”
8 Mickey Morandini – Upscale Stationery
Morandini’s 11-year MLB career is one of the more interesting in recent memory, as the light-hitting second baseman not only has an All-Star berth and an unassisted triple play under his belt, but can also claim a .352 batting average against the three most recent pitchers elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz.
Perhaps just as surprising as Morandini’s unparalleled success against the most dominant pitchers of his generation is the postretirement work taken on by the longtime Philadelphia infielder, as Morandini and his wife now run an upscale stationery store, providing the stationery for announcements of weddings, births and parties. He's also a Spring Training instructor for the Phillies.
7 Mitch Williams – Salsa Maker
Williams was recently among the many former big leaguers to be working in broadcasting, as he held a position with the MLB Network until 2014. Williams, who had solid career as a big-league reliever that is often overshadowed by the fact that he was on the losing end of the most iconic moments in postseason history when he gave up a home run to Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series, is now hosting a regular baseball podcast called Unleashed.
It is not his broadcasting work that earns him a place on this list, however, as he is also the creator of Wild Thing Southpaw Salsa. Williams’ homemade recipe was described by the Wall Street Journal as “a smooth cilantro-flavored version of the dip that coats chips like paint,” an important fact considering the former All-Star’s assessment of the salsa market: "Most of the stuff out there, you dip your chip and all you get is a cut vegetable and some water."
6 Mark Wohlers – Real Estate
The longtime Braves reliever and one-time All-Star is now working in the real estate industry as a realtor in the Atlanta area. Over 12 years in the majors, Wohlers racked up 119 saves and won a World Series title in 1995 to go with five NLCS titles during a period of dominance for the Braves. Now, through Keller Williams Realty, the former reliever heads up Team Wohlers, a real estate business he runs with his wife that focuses on upscale housing throughout Northern Atlanta.
5 David Eckstein – Fashion Entrepreneur
The diminutive Eckstein enjoyed a 10-year career in which he earned two All-Star appearances, two World Series rings and the 2006 World Series MVP Award. At just 5-6, Eckstein was a steadying presence as a middle infielder and as a top-of-the-order hitter, and he played key roles in the championship runs of both the Angels and the Cardinals.
After leaving baseball for good following the 2010 season, Eckstein has spent his retirement years working on a business venture of his wife’s creation. Together, the Ecksteins run a women’s sci-fi clothing line called “Her Universe,” and their entrepreneurial endeavor has since grown into a wildly successful multi-million dollar business.
4 Glenn Davis – Hotel Developer
A two-time All-Star who was the runner-up in the MVP balloting in 1986 after a season in which he slashed .265/.344/.493 and hit 31 home runs to go with 101 RBI, Davis enjoyed a standout career as a member of the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles throughout the 80s and early 90s. Davis retired after his age-32 season in 1993, and he is now the CEO of the Cascade Group, a hotel development company operating out of the Southeast. He has also become heavily involved in community service work, and, along with his wife, is the founder of Carpenter’s Way and the Arbella Home for Girls.
3 David Wells – High School Baseball Coach
There are a lot of former big leaguers now coaching high school baseball teams in some capacity, but Wells will be the only one to be included on this list. After an exceptional 21-year career in the big leagues, Wells returned to Point Loma High School, the school he once led to a City Championship in 1982, to serve as its head baseball coach.
With 239 wins, a perfect game, three All-Star Game appearances, two World Series titles and a reputation as a big-game pitcher, one would think that Wells could land a spot coaching in the big leagues. While he is certainly more than qualified, the burly left-hander who claims to have pitched his perfect game with a “skull-rattling hangover” has been consistently rebuffed by teams in the big leagues, an outcome Wells attributes to his outspoken nature along with his penchant for rowdy behavior during his playing career.
2 Randy Johnson – Photographer
Perhaps the most intimidating pitcher to ever stand on the mound, Johnson is a 300-game winner who retired with 4,875 strikeouts, second only to Nolan Ryan. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Johnson is now devoting a great deal of his time to pursue photography, a longtime passion of the dominant lefty that goes back to his days as a photojournalism major at USC. The Big Unit compares his career in photography favorably to his career in baseball, saying, “As much as I enjoyed the thrill of pitching a perfect game and winning a World Series, I get similar satisfaction from using my photography skills to try and capture that defining moment in time.”
1 Derek Jeter – Publisher
The New York Yankees icon could have easily coasted through retirement while awaiting his certain induction into the Hall of Fame, but he instead founded The Players’ Tribune, a media platform intended to give a voice to pro athletes through first-person features published on the website. Jeter’s media platform has recently hosted a broad range of athletes, including Barry Zito, Kevin Love, Arian Foster and Scott Gomez. With the success of the platform thus far, it appears the 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series champ is poised to enjoy a publishing career on par with his baseball career.
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