Monday, September 25, 2023

Edwin Jackson and the traveling Virgos

Growing up, I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. For whatever reason, fate had other plans. But as it turns out, I share a birthday with several Major League Baseball players and a professional lifestyle with a very special group of those players.

There are 63 Major League Baseball players who share my September 9th birthday. There are a few Hall of Famers (old school stars Frankie Frisch, Waite Hoyt, and Frank Chance), several all-stars, and a few coaches (Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder was born on the exact same day).

Of that group, what is especially interesting about my birthday is the amount of extremely travelled ballplayers born on September 9th.

According to research, there are 47 players in professional baseball's 160 year history who have played for 10 or more teams. To be good enough to play is an accomplishment, to be wanted by ten or more teams over the course of a career is a peculiar and interesting oddity. Of the 23,000 professional baseball players, those who have been on 10 or more teams is a microscopic 0.2 percent.

Of that 0.2 percent, approximately 13% were born in September. An even dispersal would have been four per month, but as you can see on the below chart, September has six, 50% more well-traveled Major Leaguers.

If we dive into September's data and we look at the six players who comprise this month of well-traveled professionals, we discover an even more interesting coincidence.

Of the six players born in September who played for more than 10 Major League teams, three are born on September 9th. More well-traveled players are born on September 9th than any other day, including Edwin Jackson, who holds the Major League record for being on 14 different teams. The only other day on which more than one well-traveled baseball player was born is February 14, the birthday of two players who played for 10 or more teams.

I could look up every date and see the average for teams played for per date, but that would be a lot of research and I don't have the time or energy for that. But I did look up September 9th. The 63 ballplayers with whom I share a birthday have been on an average of 3 teams. I didn't do the research on the other 364 days, so I don't know if that is above or below average. Of the 63 of the 23,000 people to ever play in the Major Leagues, three played for more than 10 teams. So in total, 0.013% of all Major League Baseball players ever born were born on the same day and played for 10 or more teams.

That day happens to be my birthday, September 9th.

Ironically, I have also had a well-traveled career. Since my first job at McDonalds in high school, I have worked for 17 different companies in 28 years. Since 2006, when I entered the defense contracting field, I have worked for 10 different companies, including more than half of the top 10 companies in the industry.

Not to brag, and not to downplay their struggle to stay in Major League Baseball, but I think my journey might be more stressful. Perhaps not physically, as they have had to move cities more often, but my journey may have been more difficult mentally. Whereas they have stayed in Major League Baseball, and been good enough to play at the top level for more than ten teams, they have still been under the same umbrella organization of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Union. They have always been Major Leaguers and had the benefits, salaries, privileges, and protections thereof. When I leave organizations, I am done. My benefits go away, my protections disappear, and I am out on my own. I also don't have an agent making calls on my behalf looking for my next job.

Maybe it is something on who we are as Virgos born on the 9th that makes traveling and moving from job to job a regular behavior. Maybe our analytical instincts lead us to find new teams and organizations to work with in our industries.

With Edwin Jackson, Todd Zeile, and Dan Miceli no longer in baseball, I guess it is up to me to continue our shared birthday's wandering professional lifestyle.

Anyone hiring?