April 16, 2010
Married in the Minors with Chad Paronto
A veteran of 15 professional seasons, Chad Paronto has been married to the game of baseball for most of his adult life. He has been a family man for nearly as long. Balancing the two can be a challenge, especially at the minor-league level, and many relationships have gone down swinging despite the best of intentions. Paronto, who is with his seventh organization -- and his original wife -- has been one of the lucky ones.
On the baseball lifestyle: “This is the greatest job you can have in the world, but I don’t think most people realize everything involved. They see you pitch in the big leagues a little bit and the first thing they assume is that you’re a multi-millionaire and have all the money in the world. They think you don’t have any cares in the world, but that isn‘t true, and one of the big things people don’t realize is what a strain it can put on your family. In my case, I’m away from my wife and two small children. That’s something that kind of gets overlooked by the average fan and it‘s probably the hardest thing about this lifestyle. You’re around your teammates so much that it’s almost like you’re all a big family in the clubhouse. Guys do become really close, but it’s obviously not even remotely close to being a substitute for your real family.”
On baseball parenthood: “I’ve been with my wife, who is an angel to put up with all this stuff, since I was 19 years old. We got married when we were younger, but we didn’t have kids until we were a little bit older. It was something we wanted to experience, and you can’t really let baseball dictate when to have kids and stuff like that, so we just went ahead with it. And it takes a special person to have their husband gone so much of the time. You’re raising the kids by yourself a lot of the time and it’s difficult. As players, I think we don’t always realize just how difficult it is.”
On finding a place to live: “You’re just trying to find the right place and if it’s just you and your wife it’s not quite as big of a deal, but when you’ve got kids, it’s different. You don’t want to have your kids cooped up in a small apartment with no yard to play in. For us, we like to try to find a place that has a couple of parks around so the kids can get out and about. And for me, safety is a huge thing. If I’m not there, I want to make sure that my wife and kids are in a place that’s safe. There’s a lot that goes into it, and if you get traded in the middle of the year, you have to go through the whole process again. You have to do the whole nine yards again.”
On families coming on road trips: “In the big leagues, I see families travel to some of the nicer cities. For instance, Miami is always a good place, with the Trump Hotel, which has a nice pool, so that’s a nice place to bring your family. But economics come into it when you’re in the minor leagues. Hotel and travel costs become an issue. Obviously, guys in the big leagues who are making 20 million dollars a year can afford to fly their families anywhere. That would be anybody’s dream, but most of us can‘t do that.”
On baseball relationships: “I have seen [relationships fail], but I think it depends on the person that you’re dealing with. I mean, it’s hard with all the being away and the travel, and trying to get from point A to point B, but I think that people are just different. For some people it’s easy and for others it’s impossible. I‘ve been fortunate.”