Baseball is considered America’s pastime, and many people grow up with dreams of playing Major League Baseball for a living. While it may seem like a fun and glamorous career, MLB players face intense competition and pressure to win. They are paid well but are subject to scrutiny from fans and the media. While many want to play professional baseball, few succeed. Those who are successful have natural talent but also work hard to become better players.
MLB players play games in front of paying fans. They must be in peak physical condition, so they spend a great deal of time outside of games lifting weights, running and stretching. During a game, a baseball player's responsibilities depend on the position that he plays. Pitchers throw to the other team's batters and try to keep opposing players from scoring. Infielders and outfielders aid the pitcher by making defensive plays, such as catching fly balls or throwing out runners. The catcher helps the pitcher by selecting the pitches and blocking the plate. Players also try to advance and score for their team by hitting home runs and base hits and stealing bases. Some MLB teams may require their players to fulfill media obligations as well, such as talking with the press, appearing on television programs and making public appearances.
There are no formal education requirements for MLB players. Those interested in a MLB career should play on school or club teams, so they may attract the attention of scouts. Scouts make recommendations to their teams about which players should be chosen in the MLB draft. Both high school and college players are scouted by MLB teams, so players may choose whichever route is best for them. Once a team selects a player, he is sent to the minor leagues to play with others who are just starting out. In the minors, players learn more about what it takes to be successful from managers, coaches and instructors, many of whom are former MLB players. By playing games and practicing baseball drills, players improve their skills and increase their chances of making it to the major leagues.
The MLB regular season generally runs from April through October, but players must report for spring training in February. During the season, most games takes place at night, though players must arrive at the stadium earlier in the afternoon to begin preparations. MLB players spend a great deal of time traveling as they must play games at stadiums all over the country. They can spend weeks away from their family while they are on the road. MLB players are often under a great deal of pressure because they constantly face fierce competition and play in front of demanding crowds.
According to the Major League Players Association, the average annual salary of a MLB player was $2,996,106 in 2009. As per the collective bargaining agreement between the Players Association and MLB owners, the minimum salary for a MLB player was $400,000 in 2009. The highest-paid MLB player earned $33,000,000 in 2009. Salaries vary greatly depending on a player’s skills and the team’s operating budget. Some MLB players also add to their earnings with lucrative endorsement deals.
The 30 MLB teams have only 25 roster spots each. With the continued influx of talented players from Latin America and Japan, high school and college players interested in an MLB career will face fierce competition for jobs. Few individuals actually become MLB players.