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$600 a Month and a Free Bed: The Minimum-Wage Life of a Semi-Pro Baseball Player 

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$6.85

That's the cost of a Chipotle burrito, which  isn't bad as far as lunch is concerned, unless you're counting pennies like Granger and his teammates. Granger's in the sort of financial position where getting to see Pacific Rim in 3-D without having to pay the surcharge was one of the summer's mentionable social highlights.

Like most of his teammates, Granger was a Little League standout, a shortstop from the reported age of 3.  He's humble enough to mention his high school all-state status only in passing, but self aware enough to agree that playing shortstop was a special recognition (or coronation) of superior talent, not unlike the number 23 in youth basketball.  

As an athlete of noteworthy brawn and tremendous speed, Granger was a forbidding high-school linebacker as well. But he opted for baseball at Louisiana State University-Eunice, about 20 miles from where he grew up. He played well enough there in his first year to warrant some attention from the Brewers' franchise. When he didn't get drafted, he jumped ship to McNeese State (over in Lake Charles, La.) where he played for three more years, becoming an outfielder in the process, using his terrific legs to flag down fly balls in center. He almost had a chance with the Brewers again.

"But it just didn't work out," says Granger.

He returned home, got a part-time job at a casino and started the agonizing business of mulling over his future.  He'd studied education when he wasn't playing ball, and planned to teach and coach somewhere near home.  

When he got a call in February from an old coach saying there was a possible roster spot for him in the Frontier League, he was interested — not overjoyed, mind you, but interested. Crushers' manager Jeff Isom (a former personality in the Brewers' minor-league system) talked him into signing what passed for a contract the next day.

"You gotta love it," says Granger. "You gotta want that chance."

It would seem the Crushers certainly do. There are a few sons of Ohio — Shaker Heights, Chilicothe, Fostoria, Cincinnati — but sons of elsewhere, too: Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Nevada, Alabama, Hawaii.  There are even two former aspirant Twins from Venezuela.

Assuming he doesn't get drafted, Granger doesn't know how many seasons he'll play in the Frontier League before he hangs up his cleats. "Maybe one or two more," he speculates, "but my girlfriend might have something to say about it" -- before he hangs up his cleats. That's why he's staying focused on baseball.

"Some of the guys go out to Bar Louie at Crocker Park or some bars in Avon, but I don't do too much," says Granger, who admits that Xbox and the cineplex are his two major daytime vices. "But what it all comes to is baseball. You're here to have a good time, but if you're out wasting time, you might miss your opportunity to get picked up."

$525

That's the cheapest available monthly payment (via Craiglist) for a house or apartment in Avon, Avon Lake, Sheffield or North Ridgeville.

"This setting is ideal for a couple or single person to enjoy natural surroundings," reads the post for the one-bedroom unit on Center Ridge Road. Look, moving up to Northeast Ohio to play independent ball just wouldn't be feasible if they had to survive on their itty-bitty salaries. Even if two players roomed together in the aforementioned bachelor pad, they'd each be coughing up nearly half of their paycheck to cover rent alone — never mind utilities, cell phone bills, the occasional grocery.

The Crushers' organization understands the unique fiscal plight of their players, which is why they provide host families for almost every member of the team.

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