While the Detroit Tigers have some of the highest paid baseball players in the world, there are also several baseball players who have had to (or chosen to) work in the off-season.
He is not the only Detroit Tigers player in history who has found work off the field.
In an article by Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press, Fulmer shared how he has worked for two off-seasons with a friend of the family in Oklahoma City. Working as a plumber, Fulmer fixes kitchen sinks and replaces PVC pipes. According to his off-season boss: “He digs ditches and gets dirty and does whatever needs to be done.”
Taking on a winter job like this shows the work ethic of young Michael Fulmer. If his performance on the field wasn’t enough, just imagining Fulmer unclogging toilets and digging 6-foot deep ditches is something else.
While working as a plumber is not what most people imagine the professional baseball players to do during the winter, Detroit Tigers veteran Denny McLain had one of the most unlikely off-season jobs.
In Case You Missed It
Inspired by the revelation that Fulmer was working as a plumber, Cut4 (MLB’s lighter side of the news) covered other baseball players’ non-baseball jobs. Prior to the days of million dollar contracts, most baseball players actually did do work in the off-season. Even Babe Ruth made extra money working in the movies in the off-season.
One of the most flamboyant Detroit Tigers pitchers ever to take the mound (besides Mark Fidrych) was Denny McLain. In 1968, McLain was practically unhittable. He won the Cy Young and the MVP in 1968. He won 31 games that year and ended the season with a 1.96 ERA. To add to his legacy, he won the Cy Young again in 1969. The only pitcher to better him in 1968 was Bob Gibson – the other pitcher that year to win the Cy Young and the MVP.
McLain: Master Musician
Not only could McLain throw a baseball, but the Cy Young winner was a musician. In the Cut 4 piece about players and their odd off-season jobs, Chris Landers uncovered a fascinating Ed Sullivan Show video of McLain playing the organ. It is just too good not to share with the Tigers fans:
It doesn’t get much better than this. This video should take you back, even if you weren’t alive to watch McLain play ball before all of his legal troubles took him out of the game. Watch until the end to catch Bob Gibson join McLain. This would be like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander rockin’ out in a band today. McLain actually made records and there are plenty of recordings of his work available online. His reputation on the organ was just as good as his reputation as a pitcher.
Even Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, worked in a sporting goods store to subsidize his salary and he was the first Tiger to make over $100,000. And, the loveable Bird, Mark Fidrych, actually worked in a bar and on a farm when he wasn’t playing ball.