Aspiration & Struggle

3 Great Behind-the-Scenes MLB Careers

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When people think about Major League Baseball (MLB) careers, they naturally think of baseball players making millions of dollars — and for good reason. Players get all the headlines, and they are a big part of why fans pay to watch games. And these players are very well compensated in return: Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, for example, recently signed a contract extension worth a total of $325 million.

For those who love the game but lack the athletic skills, there are plenty of success stories in various behind-the-scenes MLB careers. In honor of opening day, here are three MLB career options that don’t involve having 95-mph fastballs thrown your way.

1. MLB Umpire
Fans don’t usually head to the ballpark to see the man behind the plate who calls the shots, but MLB umpires can have a major effect on the game. Umpires don’t usually make the headlines, but sometimes they do for infamous reasons. For example, Jim Joyce made headlines over a controversial call that cost the Detroit Tigers a perfect game.

Just like players, MLB umpires have to pay their dues by working in the minor league first. But working toward being a top-flight umpire is well worth the time investment. Experienced senior umpires can make up to $350,000 per year, with rookie umps earning $120,000.

2. General Manager
Behind every great team there usually lies a great general manager (GM). A GM has a lot of responsibility, including assembling a team that will win consistently. They need to be able to form a team based on statistics, scouting reports, and their deep knowledge of the game. They do this through the minor league draft, signing free agents, and trading players with other teams. GMs have a big effect on the game, but they also tend to be on a short leash, and if their team is consistently failing, they will have a hard time keeping their job.

With all that responsibility comes a nice paycheck. Most GMs earn between $500,000 and $2 million annually, with some successful GMs, such as Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs, making even more (his championship wins for the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 may have helped boost his paycheck). The road to becoming a GM can vary. Mr. Epstein, for instance, began in the public relations department of the San Diego Padres and, in 2002, became the youngest GM in baseball history at only 28, proving that age is no indication of expertise.

3. Scout
People with an eye for talent should consider becoming an MLB scout. Scouts are the ultimate behind-the-scenes guys, as they travel the country, and sometimes the world, trying to find potentially great baseball players. Scouts always have to have their ears to the ground and must keep up with the latest information available on baseball talent. The starting salary for a scout is not high, at around $30,000, but with more experience and success comes higher pay (from $50,000 to $120,000).

These are just a few of the possible MLB careers out there. If you have a love for baseball and a strong work ethic, you’re bound to find the right one for you. But remember that those high salaries and frequent trips to multiple states will mean a good amount of tax work on your end. Not even baseball players are exempt from income taxes.