An exciting energy is in the air as the leaves fall from the trees, and the fastballs bring the heat. It’s that time of year when Baseball owns October. SPRI’s own Fitness Product Development Director, Drew Friedberg, was drafted by the Pirates in 2001 and we talked to him about his experience playing in the minor leagues.
Team: Minor League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 2001 Williamsport Crosscutters
What is one of your fondest memories from playing in the minors?
In the Summer of 2002 we were in Salisbury, MD playing against the Baltimore Orioles affiliate, it was in the middle of the marathon season so we were always looking for entertainment beyond the game while hanging in the dugout. I had noticed the batboy forgot to put his belt on his uniform and without hesitation told my best friend on the team, Chris Young.
Chris and I approached the young man between innings & informed him the umpire was furious because he forgot his belt (which we totally made up.) I told the bat boy he must immediately put his belt on then show the umpire his mistake had been corrected. Sure enough between the next inning Chris and I watched the batboy sprint towards home plate to deliver the news. Words can’t describe the look on the umpires face as he was delivered the most random news in the world. Chris and I were in tears with laughter!
What exercises/workouts did you train with that you still use today?
I was a pitcher so leg strength and strong rotator cuffs were important to have for maximum durability throughout a season. While I no longer do any rotator cuff exercises I still run and bike a lot to keep my legs in shape.
When I finished my playing career I decided I wasn’t going to workout any longer since it always felt like a job to me. Two years and twenty-five pounds later I realized that was no longer an option and got serious about my post baseball training again. It was a real wake up call to see how my body changed without baseball and mandatory workouts in my life.
What was the biggest takeaway from your time as a minor league player?
My biggest takeaway from playing baseball was a quote by my late baseball mentor Harvey Dorfman, “Character is what you do when nobody is watching.”
That quote really stuck with me both on and off the field. I met Harvey when I was 11 years old as the batboy for the Madison Muskies (Oakland A’s farm team), Harvey was employed by the A’s to work on the mental side of baseball with the organizations players.
Fast forward 7 years when I was a freshman at Arizona State, my coach Pat Murphy would bring in guest speakers to address us as a team, the third speaker happened to be Harvey who I hadn’t seen since I was 11 years old. From then on I would see Harvey almost every year until he passed away in 2011.
Why did you stop playing minor league ball, and what was your professional path after that? Do you have any advice for people going through something similar?
I had my college degree to fall back on so when I realized I wasn’t good enough to make it to the big leagues I moved to Chicago & took a job with CBS radio. My goal was to play in the big leagues but I knew the odds were stacked against me, I made it a priority to finish my degree in the off season. After 3 years at CBS radio I took a job in the fitness industry and 11 years later here I am with SPRI. I don’t consider what I do as “work”, I truly love developing new product for such a great company that has a genuine and authentic passion!