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Life in the Minors: Chapter 2- The Road Here

Life in the Minors: Chapter 2- The Road Here
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The Mini Mets and Baby Bombers talk about how they got to the New York Penn League.

For the fourteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the New York Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.

This week,  Christian Goewey and Drew Casey talk about what it took these young ballplayers to end up making it to the minor leagues. 

The Brooklyn Cyclones with Christian Goewey:

The Cyclones are off to a tremendous start. At 11-4 they own the best record in the New York Penn League.  While the team is led by skipper Tom Gamboa, who brings plenty of experience and helpful guidance, the players have been nothing short of impressive in handling the adjustment to this stage of their careers.  We tend to think of these players as people with talent that we wish for and an opportunity that we dream of, but they too thought the same way not long ago.

Rookie Tucker Tharp grew up near the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. The Cyclones starting center fielder was surrounded by competition with his siblings and always was fortunate enough to have a family to support him.  Tharp enjoyed many sports with his athletic family, mainly baseball, football and basketball.  With older brothers playing baseball and football in college, Tharp was also recruited for both, but decided to run with baseball along with the influence of his youth coaches.  It has been quite the journey for this aspiring major leaguer, as he walked on at Kansas University and eventually became a team captain before being selected in the 30th round of this year’s draft.  He may have the odds stacked against him, as most do in the minors, but Tharp’s history provides hope for him to reach the next stage of his career.

Another starter for the Cyclones, left fielder Joe Tuschak, also enjoyed a great environment to be raised in with the game of baseball. A native of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Tuschak has always been around highly talented ballplayers. The competition made it even more of a thrill for the three year pro, who spent his last two years in Kingsport.  In fact, Tuschak mentioned that he played with guys that were recently drafted.  While many are inspired by other athletes when they are young kids, Tuschak’s encouragement to pick up the sport came from his father. 

Most of these players come from normal and humble beginnings. Though their lives may seem entirely different, they hope, dream and even doubt just like us fans.  This may be a long road for most, many of which may never make it to the big show but that does not take away from their journeys of how they got this far.  

The Staten Island Yankees with Drew Casey
With the New York Penn League season 15 games in for the Staten Island Yankees, the team finds themselves at 8-7 and three games behind the McNamara division leading Brooklyn Cyclones. It has been back and forth thus far for the Baby Bombers, and the team continues to welcome drafted players as they sign their contracts with the Yankees. For many players it's been quite the road to Staten Island.
Chris Breen, a native of Winter Springs, Florida, has been a major reason for the team's relative success thus far. He currently leads the team with a .327 average and a .531 slugging percentage. The Yankees left fielder cannot remember his life without baseball and was continually motivated by his parents growing up.
Similarly, Ty McFarland, leading the team with 8 RBIs, was inspired by his father, but also by his teammates as a young player at James Madison University. He grew up alongside a college baseball program as his dad was a coach at this level throughout his childhood. Since being drafted a few weeks ago out of college, it's been a "whirlwind" for Ty. 
Even Bubba Jones from Washington was inspired to play baseball growing up. However, the first baseman cites that he was largely inspired by Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. His journey has taken a few more steps than others going from a junior college to the University of Arizona to the Gulf Coast Yankees and now to Staten Island. It's clearly been a journey to Staten Island for these three players and others, and they hope that this journey will take them to the next level sooner than later.