For Bobby Doran, and most of his Tri-City Valley Cats teammates, professional baseball is a brand new experience. A 6’ 6” right-hander, Doran was drafted by the Astros in the fourth round out of Texas Tech and is beginning his career in the New York-Penn League.
David Laurila: You’re starting your professional career in Troy, New York. How did you get to the city itself?
Bobby Doran: The Astros held a draft camp, for the all the guys that they drafted, at their spring-training facility in Florida. They flew me out to Florida, and then they flew me from the camp to Troy, two days before opening day.
DL: What is your housing situation in Troy?
BD: The first night we stayed in a hotel. Then they have an apartment complex set up for us; it’s a like a little quad room, and we stay there. It’s on the campus of RPI. There are four separate bedrooms and we have a media room and a kitchen. [To choose roommates] we got in groups about who we wanted to stay with, and they let it happen.
DL: What was it like coming to the ballpark for the first time?
BD: It was very exciting. You arrive the first day and see your name on the back of a jersey. You’ve got the Valley Cats uniform there, hanging up; it’s a great experience.
DL: What about equipment, like gloves and bats?
BD: It’s all bring your own and get your own.
DL: How do the facilities compare to what you had in college?
BD: At Texas Tech, we had probably one of the top clubhouses in the nation, but this is pro ball and the atmosphere is great. I don’t think I’ve played in two more-fun places than I have so far [Bruno Stadium, in Troy, and LeLacheur Park, in Lowell, Massachusetts] . It’s pretty much what I expected.
DL: How, and how much, do you get paid at this level?
BD: I think we get $1,100 a month. I have direct deposit, so they pay me and it goes straight to the bank. Clubhouse dues come out of that, and we also have to pay a little bit for the apartment. Most of us make our money on the signing bonuses, and after that we live off of our monthly salary as best we can.
DL: What do you get for meal money?
BD: This trip we got $50, and that’s for about four or five meals. That’s not bad at all; it’s fine to live off of. It’s not necessarily a challenge to eat, but sometimes you want to try to find the right places to eat at, so you can eat healthy.
DL: Did any family or friends make it out for your first professional game?
BD: No, I didn’t. I don’t think that a lot of us did. I know there are quite a few of us from the south, so it’s a little more difficult to family up here to New York and whatnot,
DL: How would you describe the feeling of playing your first professional game?
BD: It was exciting. I was a little nervous, but the overall experience was fantastic. Afterwards, we all talked about everybody’s opening outing, like what we expected it to be, and what it was really like; we compared and whatnot. We were all very excited, but I also think that, coming from the programs that most of us did, we all kind of expected it. It was just another step in our development and we’re ready to keep going.