San Francisco Giants minor league catcher Matt Paré had a busy offseason — one that had him shuffling between Boston and North Carolina and Boston and North Carolina and Florida and San Jose before arriving in Arizona to prepare for spring training.
“I think that traveling that much definitely prepared me for the season grind,” Paré said. “Just being uncomfortable and living out of a suitcase all the time, that’s what the regular season’s about. I guess you can kinda say that’s part of my training. Me traveling all over the place, that’s part of my training, part of my offseason regimen, so that when the season came, I’d be ready for that. Now, was I planning on doing that? No. But I like to think that’s how it worked out that way.”
Paré, who blogs about the minor league life at his blog, Homeless Minor Leaguer, spent the offseason crashing on couches of various people — friends, family, and even previous host families. His mother and his brother are both flight attendants, which made it easier for him to get from one place to the other.
“I have the luxury of being able to travel on basically any airline that I want,” Paré said. “So I took full advantage of those flying benefits this offseason.”
But that’s where the perks end.
On his blog, he wrote, “Since September alone, I have slept at over 20 different locations with the sleeping arrangements including, but not limited to futons, pull-out couches, standard couches, air mattresses, a bean bag, and a surprisingly comfortable shaggy rug. Sometimes, I had the luxury of sleeping in an actual bed.” Part of his offseason included staying at his sister’s apartment for longer than planned, from one week to two and a half weeks, and sneaking into the weight room at his sister’s campus before contacting the school’s strength and conditioning coach to get a proper workout. When in New England, he often crashed at friends’ places to avoid an hour drive, both ways, from his uncle’s place to Boston just to find a quality work facility.
Included in those friends is Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley, who Paré said let him crash on the couch. Paré cited Buckley as one of his inspirations to start Homeless Minor Leaguer.
“We would go for coffee every single morning before I’d go to my workouts and I’d sit there and pick his brain about writing and kinda got inspired to write from him,” Paré said.
Buckley came up with the moniker “Homeless Minor Leaguer,” according to Paré.
“We’d always make jokes — I’d have my suitcase and all my clothes in my car,” Paré said. “I’d say we’re sitting on the couch, watching tv, and go, ‘I gotta run to my car and grab the rest of my stuff’ and be like, ‘Your closet’s in your car, homeless minor leaguer.’ It kinda stuck in any situation.”
The offseason didn’t end at continuing workouts and blogging, however. Paré and some colleagues had worked on a business that venture capitalists almost bought. Paré didn’t mention what the business was, but noted on his blog that he doesn’t want people to steal the idea.
“They loved the idea, they loved the group, but you have to have both feet in and be fully invested,” Paré said, referencing that his baseball career’s involvement in his business plans. “I completely understand that, coming from them. If I’m a venture capitalist down the road, I would do the same thing. That’s smart business.”
Paré considered living in the Silicon Valley in the offseason, when the business’ office was supposed to be in Palo Alto before things fell through. Instead, he visited his host family from the 2014 season in San Jose, with whom he left some belongings with when the plans for the business were still going on. Paré describes his host family, a couple whose names are Rich and Chris, as “awesome,” also citing them as an inspiration for his business ideas. Rich and Chris work in the startup world, according to Paré.
“I had been thinking about starting this company prior to them, but even more so once I saw them doing what they were doing,” Paré said.
It’s easier to have a host family than finding an apartment, according to Paré.
“It’d be nice if someone could start a host family service for the offseason,” Paré said “That’d be really cool and maybe help finance ballplayers, too, help them towards their goals. Someone should start that company right there.”
Host families is one of the topics that Paré plans to blog about. Another topic is a recent talk by former ballplayer Billy Bean, who has been visiting teams and talking about acceptance and inclusion in clubhouses. Paré noted that it was “awesome” to hear Bean’s story.
“[A] takeaway I got from [Bean’s talk] was using your support systems,” Paré said. “He didn’t have anyone to turn to — or, he didn’t know he had people to turn to and it was just trusting that. Which, I can never know what that feels like to be in that situation [that he was in], especially on such a bigger stage [as MLB]. That’s a lot of courage to him to come out.”
Paré said that he thinks that across the board in all sports, casual homophobia that goes on needs to change.
“It’s been part of my mission throughout college and minor league baseball to change the culture of the casual homophobia that goes on,” Paré said. “Guys don’t even know it, but it happens. And their words are hurtful. It’s about just having them aware it could be hurting someone’s feelings on a deep level because there’s nobody out, right? There’s no one out. So, how do you know that — just because no one in the clubhouse says they’re gay doesn’t mean that no one’s gay. It just means that no one’s out. So be respectful of that.”
Among other topics for the blog, more “Life Hacks for the Minor Leaguer,” including some that will help fellow minor leaguers prepare for a long season. Paré talked about a minimalistic choice lifestyle that he thinks is effective as a minor leaguer.
“Living a minimal choice lifestyle makes decision making easier so that you can save your attention for the decisions that actually matter,” Paré said.
Paré said that there’s a lot of interesting stories in the minor leagues and a lot of different journeys being taken.
“Everyone thinks that when you get to the big leagues, that it was just, you went to high school, you did really well; you got a college scholarship, you did really well; then you get drafted, you breeze through the minor leagues, then you’re a big leaguer,” Paré said. “Guys don’t do that. It’s this back and forth — guys will take a few steps back and a few steps forward only to have more adversity hit them. And then eventually, they catapult forward and they’re like, ‘How did I end up in the big leagues?’ And that’s the great story I feel like a lot of people are missing.”