Before I began working for the Timber Rattlers, I knew nothing about baseball and the whole process that comes along with it. I didn’t know that under each major league team were five minor league teams. I didn’t know players could be released, traded or moved at any time and I had no idea that the players could be future Brewers. When all of this was brought to my attention, I had 100 questions. How does this process work? Where are all of these teams? What does a double A or triple A affiliate mean? Where do these guys live if they’re not from Appleton?! During my four seasons with the organization, all of my questions were answered. However, one thing that was so cool to me was that all of the players who were not from the area were paired up with a family who opened up their homes to them for the season. These families are called host families.
As a Timber Rattlers employee, I became very close with all of the host families because they would come to every Timber Rattlers home game. One of the perks to becoming a host family is receiving free season tickets to all Timber Rattlers home games. The people who sign up to be host families range from new parents all the way to grandparents. Some of these people have been hosting for 20 years to ensure the Brewer’s stars of the future have a place to stay-a home away from home.
(Though the Timber Rattlers have host families, that is not true for every minor league team at every level. Most teams stop giving players the option to stay with a host family after the low A level. Once they get to double A, players are in charge of finding a place to stay. What makes this hard is finding a place to live that offers a month to month lease and has furnished units. The reasons behind this is because the players could be moved at any time and so they need to be able to get out of the lease if need be. They also live out of a suitcase, so they can’t bring any house furnishings along with them.)
I realize this article was written in 2009, but it does a great job describing host families and the purpose they serve.
The coolest part about being a host family is the relationship that is created. A lot of the people who host players end up traveling to spring training to watch their “kids” or travel around the country during the summer to watch them wherever they are playing. One family in particular hosted a player four seasons ago. Unfortunately, that player had to return to Appleton because he is coming off of an injury. He requested to come back and live with them, and he is back with his family from four years ago. Since he left the stadium four years ago, the host family has gone to spring training three times to visit him as well as flew him home from the Dominican Republic for Christmas. Another family essentially adopted their host child from the Dominican Republic and are currently helping him get established here in the states. There is so much more to the game of baseball than people realize.
The Marlborough family, mom and daughter pictured above, hosted four Latin players last season.
The Marlborough’s also made a trip to Arizona for spring training to visit their host sons.