It’s a fitting thought for a player who now plays under the moniker “Angels.” What happens after baseball is over? What happens after a superstar’s playing life ends? For many, including Albert Pujols, that answer lies in the front office. The Angels continued a tradition in baseball often only seen after a player’s days are numbered. They gave Albert Pujols a job in their front office. Alongside the 10-year playing contract he received from the team in December, the Angels also gave Pujols a 10-year executive contract. This was not necessarily an original move, but it was far from a common offer.
We often think of baseball players, and sports figures in general for that matter, as nothing more than machines who punch in, perform at exceptional athletic levels, and collect their fat paychecks. They are nothing more than multi-millionaires who play a game in some people’s minds. Yet, these multi-millionaires didn’t start life that way. They began life on little league diamonds, in open fields, and in impoverished nations. These machines fell in love with a game that grasps so firmly onto some that it is impossible to know when enough is enough. And for many players, there is no “enough.” For many players, the athletic ability declines, but the love remains. The desire to participate and be a part of the game that lifted them and provided them something more is strong. For these players – the ones not cut out for coaching or not interested in coaching – the front offices of Major League teams comes calling.
Nolan Ryan, during his waning years with the Rangers, was offered a contract very similar to Pujols’. He was given the opportunity to sign a playing contract at the same time he signed an executive contract. The move worked out quite well for the current Rangers owner. He not only got to finish out his Hall of Fame career in Texas, but got to help work and build a competitive team.
Other former players find themselves in a position to work in their former teams’ front offices quite often. Frank Robinson, after his playing days and even his managing days, became a member of the Baltimore Orioles front office. Mark Loretta is currently a member of the Padres front office. Adam Everett just moved on to the Cleveland Indians‘ front office. Craig Counsel, after years of scrappy play and holding on to a mostly bench position, will join the Milwaukee Brewers front office.
These players may not have a large role with their teams while working in an executive role, but the job offers them a chance to continue their time as part of the game. Some may move up and help shape the future of the organization. Others may settle for an office and their name on the executive directory. No matter the case, they share a common theme. The game is their life. Moving on from it is difficult. Front office jobs give them a chance to live in the game, if only for a little while longer.