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.
14 Doug Mirabelli – Real Estate
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.”
12 Jody Gerut – Personal Finance
11 Dan Serafini – Bar Owner
10 Brian Johnson – Diversity Consultant
9 Byung-Hyun Kim – Restaurateur
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.
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.
6 Mark Wohlers – Real Estate
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.
4 Glenn Davis – Hotel Developer
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.
2 Randy Johnson – Photographer
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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