BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Below the major leagues, far from the massive stadiums and multimillion dollar contracts, another group of baseball players works, trains, grinds and gets paid next to nothing.
“I don’t like to sugarcoat things. So when you’re pulling 45 dollars cash a week to play a sport 2,000 miles away from home, that’s daunting,” said Zach Devon, pitcher for the Westside Wooly Mammoths.
This is the reality for the players of the Bakersfield Train Robbers, as it is for thousands of ballplayers across the country.To play the game they love, players go without a stable home — or sometimes, any home at all.
“I’ve driven across the country, not knowing where I’m staying until I got there. So it’s kind of a vulnerable state,” said Luke Kelley, pitcher for the Savannah Bananas.
But here in Bakersfield, people are trying to change that. People like Sherri Jobe, who has opened her home to players since 2017.
“We have an open door here,” said Sherri Jobe, a host mom. “If they’re hungry, they can come and eat, and if they want to go swimming at any time, they can go swimming here. They can come and go just like our boys do.”
Jobe, who has two sons with husband Donnie, said she now has dozens more. She’s housed between 20 and 25 players in the past 5 years — including Luke and Zach.
“It was late, they were both asleep so we met them the next day, and you could just tell that they loved every part of it,” Devon said. “They were both so happy, they’re both two Christian hearts that are active in the church, and they just love. They just love, man.”
The sure roof and stable bed let players like Devon pursue their dreams.
“You grow up and you have that dream, you didn’t know how special it was going to be if you achieved it,” Devon said.
It also gives Jobe some motherly peace of mind.
“As a mom, I know with my boys, my two boys, I would hope that somebody would take care of them and I would know they were safe,” Jobe said.
Devon is getting married later this year in North Carolina. And this time, it’s the Jobes’ turn to cross the country for baseball.
“We’re going to go to their wedding, because they’re a part of our family,” Jobe said.