Minor league baseball is a nomadic and potentially lonely life, aside from the camaraderie you share with teammates who are also chasing the dream of playing in the big leagues.
From spring training through the end of the season, it’s more than seven months of temporary housing, bus trips and hotel rooms, with only a handful of off days sprinkled in.
“You miss a lot of important things that happen in your life,” said Myrtle Beach Pelicans catcher Tyler Pearson. “I’ve missed so many weddings and so many important events, but in a sense this life comes first and the job comes first. All these guys in the locker room are used to not being around their families for six, seven months, and it’s not easy at all, and it’s something that often goes overlooked.”
For Pearson, that family has expanded by two over the past six months.
Pearson, 26, met Conway native Megan Hucks early last season at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, the couple wed in February and on July 26 they welcomed son Maddox Lane Pearson. “It was a pretty quick transition. It was meant to be,” Pearson said.
Pearson was granted paternity leave by the Chicago Cubs, the Pelicans’ Major League Baseball parent team, to be present for the birth of his son in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Megan has been a newscaster for a Fox affiliate since September. Because Maddox developed fluid in his lungs caused by pneumonia, which has since improved, the leave extended to three weeks.
“I have friends whose husbands play in other organizations and they haven’t been as lucky,” said Megan, a Coastal Carolina graduate who modeled professionally for four years in places such as Thailand, Singapore and Los Angeles before transitioning to television news. “They’ve gotten less than a week off, so it was nice.”
Pearson returned to the Pelicans on Aug. 9, and after being away from his wife through most of her pregnancy, he is trying to balance his focus between baseball and his new family.
“It’s not easy without a kid, now it has gotten even harder,” Pearson said. “It is tough. It’s not easy leaving them and not being able to be with them right now. But Megan has it taken care of in Colorado . . . Luckily it’s just a few more weeks of the season and I’ll be able to go back and help her out.
“And luckily we have things like FaceTime so I can check up on her and see him on FaceTime. It’s still not easy being away from her and not being able to help.”
There is only a little more than two weeks left in the Pelicans’ Advanced Class A season, which will be shorter for the team this season since it isn’t likely to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Myrtle Beach finishes a series against Buies Creek on Sunday at Pelicans Ballpark and has its final homestand against Buies Creek from Aug. 27-30.
Following the season finale at Frederick on Sept. 3, Pearson will return to Colorado Springs, and he and Megan will have some decisions to make before next season, as will the Cubs.
Pearson said he’s under contract for one more season and he’d like to continue playing. But he has received little playing time this season and has struggled offensively in his few opportunities.
He has played in nine games and is hitless in 24 at-bats after batting a professional career-high .257 in 35 games in Myrtle Beach in 2017 with seven doubles and four home runs in 113 at-bats.
If he doesn’t continue his playing career in 2019, coaching is a serious consideration.
“I’m still trying to see what I need to do and what I can do to provide for my family because it’s not about me now, it’s about that little dude and my wife now. So they’re a lot more important to me,” said Pearson, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas State. “We’ll see this offseason. I’ll weigh all my options and see what’s best for us as a family.
“I do want to stay around the game of baseball if I am to quit playing just because you can’t beat it.”
Coaching appears to be a real possibility for Pearson, if not next season then in the near future.
Pearson has absorbed a lot of information from Pelicans pitching coach Anderson Tavarez. “He’s been with Tavy, the pitching coach in the bullpen so much, he knows everything Tavy knows, I’m sure, just by being around,” Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey said. “And I always thought catchers are the second manager and second pitching coach on a team anyway. He’s been a student of the game.”
Pearson believes his experiences and game preparation as a catcher have helped mold him for a possible coaching career.
“You have to keep an eye on the whole game. Mentally you have to be there the whole time,” he said. “You’re the only guy that basically has a view of the whole field so you have to know what’s going on with every position and kind of have to be a leader and direct traffic. Being a catcher you have to think different as well. There are a few different games: you’ve got defense, you’ve got to hit and you also have to call the game.”
As the oldest player on a team that features 24 players age 23 or younger, Pearson has been providing leadership despite his lack of playing time.
“I know he wants to get in to coaching, we’ve talked about that a little bit, and he’s going to be an awesome coach once he’s done with his career,” said 24-year-old Pelicans pitcher Casey Bloomquist, who said he brainstorms with Pearson and Tavarez on tactics. “He’s an extremely high baseball IQ guy, so he’s awesome to have around.
“Some of the guys are a little too young to really take full advantage, but the guys who are starting to get it a little bit, they try to talk to him as much as possible.”
Marriage and fatherhood should only add to Pearson’s potential as a coach.
“Maturity is when you look at a lot of different variables and things in life you never thought about, and right now I’m sure he’s thinking about things somewhat differently,” Bailey said. “He has two other mouths he’s responsible for now, one being a baby, so obviously it’s going to change his life and I’m sure it’s going to help him for the good, not that he needed a lot of changes for the good.”
“He goes about his work right, which is the biggest thing.”
What’s in a name?
Pearson said the name Maddox wasn’t based on a famous baseball player named Maddux, but it kind of was. Beckett – as in former All-Star pitcher Josh Beckett – was the other consideration. “Greg Maddux was an awesome pitcher and competitor, and it’s a different name and we liked it and decided to go with that name,” Pearson said.