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Nightmare Bus Ride Stories On 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 33

Equipment Bus Michaelzagarisgetty
Jon Perrin (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.

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The most famous pop culture iteration of Minor League Baseball bus rides, like most things you see in the movies, is a bit more idealistic than reality.

In Ron Shelton’s 1988 classic Bull Durham, the viewer is treated to lots of MiLB hallmarks—on-field entertainment, road trip hijinks, and especially bus rides.

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The film features multiple bus ride moments, the most notable of which depicts Tim Robbins’ character Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh strumming an acoustic guitar and butchering the lyrics to Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” until he’s stopped and scorned by Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis. Davis then regales his teammates about his twenty-one days in “The Show.”

Bull Durham doesn’t provide glamorous look at life in the bus leagues by any means, but a teammate putting on a bad show with a guitar sure beats some of the nightmare stories almost any current or former MiLB player has on their resume.

Bus ride hardships are one of the big reason transportation was one of the main areas of focus when MLB announced it was reconfiguring the minor leagues and making an attempt at improving player lifestyle. New standards for quality of travel should hopefully lead to fewer horror stories for future minor leaguers, but sometimes things just go bad on a bus.

Over the past year on our Baseball America podcast, ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ nearly every former ballplayer who’s joined the show as a guest has had a great story about something not-so-great happening on the road.

Whether it’s a bus breakdown, air conditioning cutting out while on a long drive in the deep south, or just some good old fashioned car sickness, life on the bus can get rough on the road to the big leagues.

Now, it’s not all bad—much like in Bull Durham, camaraderie is built on a bus. Players build lifelong memories and friendships while laughing along to a movie on the road, playing cards in the back, or orchestrating a prank on the guy who mistakenly thought it was safe to use the lavatory.  It’s just that all those good times can get drowned out when the entire team is sitting on the side of the highway waiting for a new bus at 3AM.

On today’s episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ we’re sharing some of the best nightmare bus ride stories we’ve heard from guests on past episodes. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts.

Ezequiel Duran Billmitchell

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