BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - To be out at Sam Lynn Ballpark every night you've got to really love the game. From the on field entertainment before games to the empty seats during, life in the Pecos League is about embracing everything America's pastime has to offer.
23 year old Scot Hoffman is doing just that. The Train Robbers pitcher currently leads the league in earned run average, strikeouts and wins. "Players behind me got my back so I'm just throwing for contact right now," he said.
Growing up playing in Arizona, Hoffman was drafted by the Pirates, signed by the Phillies and after a few months with the team's single-A affiliate in Williamsport was released. "You never know what's going to happen," he said on his status in Bakersfield. "Never know who's watching."
Reminding yourself that "any day could be the day" you get the call is important because every week Hoffman sees his paycheck of just $57. "It's kind of tough living off that but we manage to make it work."
This week, his father Scot just so happened to be at the game. "You want the real story?" he told 23ABC. "The $57 doesn't do anything. I probably give him $200 a week."
Even with the help, the money isn't enough so players are housed by "host families."
From free rent, to food before and after, host families are key to the league's success. The pennies are really pinched in the car.
Hoffman and the rest of the players have to drive themselves to and from games on the road. "In high school we at least got a yellow bus so it wasn't as bad as having to drive your own car, put the miles on your car and then pay for gas," Hoffman said.
The team plays a 64 game season in just 68 days so given the daily grind, the travel and the one uniform players have to wash daily it's easy to question why. When asked, Hoffman said, "As long as my arm is willing to let me throw I'm willing to play baseball the rest of my life."
The Train Robbers will take on the High Desert Yardbirds July 30th in a best of three series to start the first round of the Pecos League playoffs.