Off-season jobs of major league baseball players in the winter of 1958-59

Baseball players today are paid enough during the season that they don’t have to worry about making ends meet in the winter, and the best of them can put away enough money during their playing careers that they don’t have to worry about money after their careers end. But in my younger days major leaguers routinely held down jobs during the off-season, both to keep cash coming into the household and to establish themselves in positions that could provide a living when their playing days were over.

As just a tiny bit of evidence of this, I share here some off-season jobs held by players as listed on page 12 of The Sporting News of Oct. 8, 1958, something I stumbled upon while researching something else. TSN correspondents often provided rundowns of how their teams’ players would be spending the winter as the regular season came to a close. So this is the most random of samplings — I’m not even trying to look at other players mentioned in the same issue, just the ones on this particular page.

Eddie Mathews: president of Eddie Mathews Enterprises, a construction firm.

Johnny Logan: president of a title company that bears his name.

Gene Conley: vice-president of an oil company.

Ernie Johnson: insurance salesman.

Frank Torre: public relations representative for a soft drink concern.

Bob Rush: sell real estate in Mesa, Arizona.

Bob Buhl: has an appliance dealership in Saginaw, Michigan.

Harry Hanebrink: drive an oil truck in St. Louis.

Joe Koppe: paint houses in Detroit.

Warren Spahn: work his cattle ranch in Hartshorne, Oklahoma.

Joey Jay: work his chicken farm in Lutz, Florida.

Cal McLish: work for the Associated Oil Fields Rental Company in Oklahoma City.

ChunkyRay Narleski: “a good-will representative for Chunkies, a chocolate candy bar.” Perhaps the bar in question was Chunky; a frame from a 1959 commercial is at right.

Billy Hunter: work in his insurance agency in Baltimore.

Woodie Held: sell houses for a contractor in Kansas City.

Rocky Colavito: work for the Temple Mushroom Transportation Company, Temple, Pennsylvania.

Don Ferrarese: work for a sporting goods store in Pleasant Hill, California.

Morrie Martin: “intends to buy into a meat-processing plant in Washington, Missouri, and will study the butchering trade.”

Hal Woodeshick: work for the Baldwin Supply Company, learning to be a salesman in the industrial mill supply business in Charleston, West Virginia.

Randy Jackson: work at his insurance business in Athens, Georgia.

Vic Wertz: has a beer distributorship in Mount Clemens, Michigan.

Gary Bell: work for a photographer in San Antonio, taking pictures of school children.

Rudolph and WagginDon Rudolph: work as a clothes-catcher for his wife, burlesque star Patti Waggin (together at left). No, Patti Waggin was not her real name. Rudolph and Waggin are both deceased but they have a website and each still has a fan club you can join. Mike Hasse has written a brief bio of Rudolph. (ADDED 1/18/19: Steven Goldman has an extensive story about Don and Patti at The Hardball Times.)

Nellie Fox: operates a bowling establishment in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Early Wynn: in the construction business in Nokomis, Florida.

Dick Donovan: “has a thriving insurance agency of his own in Quincy, Massachusetts.”

Billy Pierce: helps out in the pharmacy owned by his dad in Detroit.

Gerry Staley: works in a lumber mill in Vancouver, Washington.

Jim Rivera: “will give his father-in-law a hand on the latter’s farm near Angola, Indiana.”

Ron Jackson: will break into the insurance field as a salesman in Kalamazoo.

Alex Kellner: roping mountain lions in his native Arizona to sell to zoos and circuses.

Joe Nuxhall: salesman for a trucking firm in his native Hamilton, Ohio.

Bob Purkey: public relations man for the Vienna Baking Company in Pittsburgh.

Hal Jeffcoat: construction work and “peddle some real estate and insurance” in Tampa.

Don Newcombe: whiskey business in Newark, New Jersey.

Walt Dropo: sell real estate in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Pete Whisenant: has a bar in Charlotte (“I’ll sell beer and drink beer”).

Smoky Burgess: run a service station in Forest City, North Carolina.

Bob Schmidt: “will wrestle a concrete mixer in St. Louis.”

Sad Sam Jones: drive a lumber truck in West Virginia.

Larry Jackson: “plans to work on the sports staff of the Idaho Daily Statesman back in Boise.” (After his playing days Jackson served in the Idaho legislature and ran for governor.)

Stan Musial: “has a bowling alley to look after, in addition to his restaurant, banks, etc.”

Del Ennis: opening a bowling alley in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

Irv Noren: owns a bowling alley in Pasadena, California.

Eddie Kasko: work with a beer distributor in Richmond, Virginia.

Ray Katt: sell life insurance in New Braunfels, Texas.

Wilmer Mizell: with a new insurance firm in St. Louis.

Jim Brosnan: will resume his job with a Chicago advertising agency. (During the 1959 season Brosnan would write the first of his classic books, “The Long Season.”)

Sal Maglie: has a liquor store in Niagara Falls, New York.

Quite a few players reported they would be involved in some variation of taking it easy, and a number were playing winter ball. But most of them had gainful employment.

4 thoughts on “Off-season jobs of major league baseball players in the winter of 1958-59

  1. Barry

    Who’d have thought that MAJOR league baseball players of any era had other jobs on top of their baseball profession, crazy!

  2. Pingback: 4 baseball players’ bizarre off-season jobs (including a burlesque dancer’s assistant!) - Trivia Happy

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