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From the archives: Steve Stanley discusses his retirement

Like every player who signs a professional baseball contract, Steve Stanley had the dream of making it to the big leagues. Stanley, who was drafted in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft, got close to realizing that dream when he landed in AAA in 2004. However, as Stanley started his second year of AA baseball, he began to re-evaluate the toll that “the dream” was having on his family and decided, after four years of professional baseball, to retire. We have the details.

Steve Stanley announced his retirement earlier this week after an off-season of soul-searching. Stanley was coming off of a strong year in AA, hitting .290 and establishing a career-high in homeruns and slugging percentage. However, he was ticketed back to AA and the path to Oakland appeared blocked. After a long road-trip to start the season with Midland, Stanley began to re-evaluate why he was playing baseball and the toll it was taking on his family.

“It is something that has been wearing on me and my wife for a long time. It really just came down to the fact that it was too hard on my family. My family is the most important thing to me and it was hard to see them struggle and they definitely struggled when I was on the road,” Stanley said as he traveled back to his home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Stanley pointed to the grind of traveling as the main reason that he decided to hang up his cleats.

“There is not a lot of normalcy in baseball. You can’t buy and house and set up [in a community] long-term. You are really kind of a nomad,” Stanley said.

“Some of the guys enjoy that [aspect of baseball life], but I never really did. I came to the realization that I wasn’t really playing for myself anymore, I was really playing for the dream of making it to the show and the dream that other people had for me to make it. It just wasn’t enough to struggle through that any more. I wasn’t really enjoying it. The only thing I really enjoyed was the camaraderie with all of the guys. That part I’ll miss. I really tried to make it work this year, but I felt like I was forcing something that wasn’t there.”

Stanley and his family are heading back to Phoenix, where he will begin a job search. He has a degree in Marketing and Management from the University of Notre Dame. Stanley got a taste of the business side of baseball this off-season, when he worked for Steve Ontiveros at Line Drives AZ.

“Hopefully I can apply some of the skills I learned playing baseball to the business world,” Stanley said.

Looking back on his career, Stanley points to the day he was drafted as his biggest highlight.

“The best day of my professional baseball career probably was being drafted. Just the emotions and excitement of that day was hard to top. It was really exciting,” Stanley said.

Although Stanley’s baseball career may best be remembered for being a featured player in the book “Moneyball”, his professional career had a number of highlights. He won two minor league championships (Midland and Sacramento), and he finishes his career with a lifetime .295 batting average and a .374 on-base percentage. He also made a positive impression on fans who saw the undersized outfielder leave it all on the field and compete day in and day out with much bigger players.

Stanley joins Matt Lynch as the second player to retire from the Midland roster this season. Lynch won seven games for Midland last season, splitting the campaign between starting and relief. He appeared in the Arizona Fall League this off-season. According to Stanley, Lynch has returned to his native Florida and is interested in a career in real estate. Lynch retires with a career mark of 24-14 and a 4.20 ERA. He won 13 games for A-Modesto in 2004, helping the A’s win the California League championship that season.

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