Cougars right-hander Michael Wagner shared a host family residence with married couple David and Rachel Bote, plus fellow relievers Zak Hermans and James Pugliese.
He and his Carol Stream housemates did not all share the same relationship status, however.
While several players have girlfriends who visit during the season, the single life still is prevalent in the clubhouse culture.
Looking for a partner often can become another item on the itinerary, and does not necessarily settle at the top.
“You’ve always got to make sure where your priorities are,” said Wagner, who is single. “You know, there’s a time where you’re not playing, maybe, or you’ve got an off day you can go do some stuff, have some fun. But really, I think, when it’s baseball season, it’s baseball season. You’ve got to do so many things. And if it comes along, great, but at the end of the day, it’s really what you do on the field that matters.”
The Midwest League has a history of matchmaking. Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz met his former wife, Tiffany, while playing with Wisconsin in the Seattle Mariners organization in the mid-1990s.
Their first encounter came at a bar, a scenario that’s commonly depicted when ballplayers appear on film or in literature but is nonetheless a reality.
“I mean, that’s life. Doesn’t matter if it’s baseball players or regular guys that work at Geico,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “They’re still chasing girls, and girls are chasing guys. I mean, it’s the nature of our job. We’re on the road half the time. Sometimes we meet them at home; sometimes you meet your wife on the road; sometimes you meet them back at your hometown. You’re here more than you’re at home, so it’s kind of irrelevant.”
Center fielder Jake Hannemann, promoted to Advanced-A Daytona Wednesday, roomed with a non-married teammate on early-season road trips before his wife, Shayli, joined him. Bote, demoted to Boise on Thursday, gave the Cougars a second married ballplayer.
“With playing baseball, we see each other seven hours of the day. The other time is what they do,” Hannemann said. “I mean, I’ve chilled with my roommate in the hotel room. I feel like most of them just go get a good night’s rest and wake up and do it all over again.”