A gentleman at a Baseball Business group told me he wanted to publish my story and asked me to type it up over email…
I don’t, I mean. How? How can I? Just type it up over email? But it’s a real long story man…
Email is fine he assured me…. This is what I came up with as a short version- It’s got pretty much all of it.
If you make it all the way through this you WILL get an award- it’s not short- but it’s as short as I could make it.
If you read through this and want to talk please reach out. Find me on Facebook, find me on Twitter or wherever– I’d love to hear from you.
If you read through this and think the message is useful for someone else in your life, please have them reach out, Send it over, share it, email the link, do all three.
I’m here for you
Hi Luke, Sorry this is taking a while, I’ve continued the story below! It’s crazy long.
In 2001 when I was a senior in High school, my entire life changed. I’m sure that’s not uncommon but I can tell you that my story is certainly anything but common-
In June of that year, with 3 weeks left in my high school days, I was drafted in the 21st round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the MLB First year players draft.
After a few months of negotiations with the Pirates, while I continued to play American Legion ball in Flemington, NJ (Go Post 159!), they made their final offer before I was to attend Seton Hall University. They offered me $170,000 cash and $120,000 worth of scholarship to attend any school of my choosing once I retired… I only bring up the money for reasons that will become apparent shortly…
I chose school with the hopes that after 3 years of growing, learning and playing, I would be drafted again after my junior year and commence a pro career then. However– what actually happened was I wasn’t drafted after my JR year at SHU and instead was drafted after my SR year instead… as any senior sign will tell you, without the leverage of an additional year of school, the signing bonuses drop off very quickly. I signed my non negotiable 7-year contract and collected my non negotiable signing bonus of $1,000. Six and change after taxes. I wasn’t rich, but I was finally a professional athlete. I started my pro career in July 2005 after being drafted by the Nationals in the 18th round of their first draft as a franchise.
I played for the Nationals for that entire first contract (something rarely done) and signed back for one year on top. Following the 2012 season, my third in AA, the Nationals and every other team in the MLB was uninterested in signing me to play baseball.
Turns out though, that a couple of independent teams needed a power hitter so I had a couple of offers- the one I ended up signing was a 2-year deal to play in Sioux Falls, SD as a Canary.
I wasn’t keen on signing a 2-year deal because I had never been to SD or any of the cities in the league (one of the reasons I chose the league) so I wasn’t sure if I would like it… I signed the contract reluctantly because of the 2 year deal that the “league insists on” with the reassurance that I would be able to have my release should I request it after the year– I should’ve had that amendment written into the contract but instead I took the wrong persons word.
Part of me had decided that if I didn’t get picked up by an MLB team during my year at Sioux Falls then I would be done- so hopefully the second year wouldn’t matter.
After the statistically best year of my career at 30 years old in SD as a DH- but not getting picked up, I was on the fence about continuing to play.
I had an opportunity to play for a team near my hometown in NJ called the Somerset Patriots BUT I had some value to Sioux Falls once I had a good year so they wouldn’t release my contract. I couldn’t sign with the Patriots because I wasn’t a free agent.
Instead, Sioux Falls traded my contract out to a separate team in NJ that I had no desire to play for in order to pick up a couple of players that could help them the following year.
The NJ Jackals manager refused to release my contract as well even after we had a conversation and I explained everything that happened. If he had spoken to me before the trade he could’ve kept his other two players- I wasn’t going to play for him. It was Patriots or nothing for me and since the Jackals wouldn’t release me, it was nothing- I retired. I was 30 years old, had been a professional athlete for 9 years, had $300 in my bank account, a host of bad habits and no idea what to do with the rest of my life.
No. Idea. I had been nothing but a baseball player for as long as I could remember, and I poured everything I had into it (which at the time, wasn’t very much but I’ll get to that).
I put together a resume highlighting my vast experiences in hitting a ball with a piece of wood and starting applying to jobs I thought sounded interesting. Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Writing positions– I got ZERO calls back from anyone. Nothing.
I didn’t really know what to do, so I did what every 30 year old who has $300 and no idea what to do does, I asked my father… He’s a successful business man- he’ll know what to do.
And he did. If I wanted to get into business and I was truly done playing, there was an old business friend of my fathers who owned a company based out of NJ, 50 miles from my family’s home (where I had returned to live) who happened to be looking to hire a Regional Sales Manager for his company. I had very little sales experience at the time, outside of selling myself, but I took the job.
The territories were scattered because it’s a small company and after five months of working at the company I was managing agencies in cities all over the US. I was traveling every other week to cities like, Louisville, KY, Little Rock, AR, parts of Texas, San Francisco, DC, Maryland, Philadelphia, all over Florida, Boston, Chicago, etc.
Six months into my new career as Regional Sales Manager, the company was restructuring territories to make it more efficient and as a result were looking to hiring on a West Coast Regional Sales Manager based out of Los Angeles, CA.
I saw the ad on Linkedin and decided to talk directly with the president of the company and my father’s business colleague.
For the first time in a long time, maybe ever- I made an active decision to improve my life- I wanted to Los Angeles job. I had been to the West Coast only twice at that point, once to Palm Springs for a sister’s field hockey tournament and once to SD to visit friends. I loved it and if the financials made sense, I would move away from my family’s home and cross country to LA.
In my nine years of baseball, I had seen the vast majority of the east coast and the central US. With my company in a position to move me to LA and my ability to perform the position in LA sorted, the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2014 (my first season in 10 not playing pro baseball) I packed my car and headed west.
After baseball and during my early time as a Regional Sales Manager, I was running into major problems with my health.
Not just physically- I played most of my career somewhat to moderately overweight with a slew of mismanaged poor habits that caught up with me in a hurry when I stopped exercising daily. I gained 30 pounds seemingly without even noticing and before I knew it I had ballooned to 275lbs. At 6’4” and 275 pounds I am a large, unhappy individual.
I was feeling like a failure after baseball, I’m sure a feeling a lot of your readers can relate to. My goal was to play Professional Baseball. Paid to play a sport, a game, for a living. Did I play in the Major Leagues, no. Did I achieve my goal and more? Would 6 year old me think that was badass regardless of the money? YES.
It’s taking me a very long time and a lot of introspection to get to the point of not feeling like a failure but rather the exact opposite. I feel proud. Proud of the things we have all accomplished, proud of our collective past and excited for our collective future.
In summer of 2015, I was living in Los Angeles, playing tennis 5 days a week and making $125k per year to sell Italian lighting fixtures all over the western third of the US.
BUT- I wasn’t particularly happy and I was spending 40-50 hours/week doing a job that made me stressed out beyond belief. I’m told that a lot of former athletes end up in sales, our competitive sides and work ethic giving us an edge on the competition— If anyone has a position in Regional Sales or sales in general, you know how stressful that can be.
I had started to get back in physical shape, losing some weight and starting to feel more confident again— and then, I tore my meniscus in my right knee. A knee that I had already had operated on years before for an ACL reconstruction.
I went to a family physician in LA for a pre-op check up, just to make sure I would be ok under anesthesia, and some issues came up- Most notably that my heart rate was extremely low.
I spend 5 weeks in and out of doctor’s offices- cardiologists, specialists, mentors, ultrasounds, take home 24-hour EKGs, all while seriously beginning to question whether I was healthy or had a real problem with my heart.
5 week sod thinking you may be seriously sick has a profound mental effect on an individual. At least it did for me. I started asking myself some really tough, really big life questions- Why are we here? What’s the point? What does it matter? Is it really about money?
As any person’s brain will do, I started coming up with some answers. Maybe we’re not here for work or our career impact– maybe we are here for family and love and connection. With baseball as my number one focus since I was a young boy, my relationships always took a second chair to my career. When I switched from baseball to lighting, I took the same mentality and approach there as well- my career was my number one focus.
As I was very very seriously contemplating my health and mortality, I consciously made a decision and came up with a new dynamic. I lined up some principles:
– IF- the main focus of life is to build a family, be in a partnership, share and connect with other people
– AND- the only way to be happy with another person is to first be happy with yourself (If you don’t love you, you’ll never believe that someone else does)
– THEN- Becoming the person that you truly want to be is the most important thing in the world
I started getting very very serious about self-care and personal development as a result of my personal health scare that resulted in a total mindset shift on my personal priorities— I’ve since come to realize that this dynamic of choosing one or the other doesn’t need to happen, but at the time that is how I viewed it- Focus on career or focus on personal life.
Switching my mentality or adjusting my attitude, as my dad would say, has lead to the most amazing year of my life. It was a year in which I discovered coaching- not baseball coaching, life-coaching– went back to school (something I said I wouldn’t do), left my position in lighting, moved to Colorado, swapped volleyball for tennis, took a job at Denver Country Club (mostly for free golf and working outside).
The REAL reason that I wanted to share my story is not because I think I am special or different or better than anyone of your other readers. The reason I wanted to share this story is because I know that there are those among us retired professional baseball players who feel lost- Who are working in positions that make them unhappy, suffering from self-esteem and confidence issues, defeated by baseball and left feeling as a failure or inadequate. I often talk to ex-teammates who have labeled this as depression. Self-doubt and fear the new characteristics that have replaced playfulness, joy and excitement.
The reason I wanted to share my story is FOR those guys. This story is for you- If you feel like that, if you don’t know what to do, if you’re not passionate about whatever sales job you ended up in but you don’t see another way, this story is for you.
I have been you- I know what it is like to be depressed. I know what it is like to be heart-broken because you just couldn’t get it done or make it. I know what it feels like to wake up as a professional athlete (pride, joy and excitement) and I know what it’s like to wake up and no longer be one.
I know what you are going through and I am here to tell you there is a completely different way. A better way, and you already have the skill set required- we all do. Of course, I’m talking about coaching.
As athletes, we have all been coached our entire lives. We have all spent time with people from all over the US and other countries… We know how to communicate. We know how to get along. We know how to lead. We have seen good leadership and bad leadership. Good coaching and bad coaching. Our work ethic speaks for itself. Our aptitude for strategy, performing under pressure, boldness and gung ho spirit are all pluses. You cannot teach experience and we have experience that less that 1% of people have.
While, we most certainly did not get financially rich in minor league baseball, I want to remind you that we have a skill set that is unparalleled in the market place and must be shared.
The point of this story, all this writing and all this reading on your part, is to let you know that coaching— life coaching, health coaching, business coaching, financial coaching, mentality coaching, etc— is an area that you might want to take a look at.
It is an area that you will truly enjoy, not only for the financial benefits (which are fantastic) but for the shear contribution and meaning of impacting someone’s life in a positive way. Every single day I meet new people and talk with them about their lives. I celebrate their successes and coach them through their challenges.
As a Mentality Coach, I’m watching my clients grow and progress in ways they never thought were possible every day because they are learning to finally take control of their minds, take responsibility in their own lives and learn to create exactly what they want through simple and fun exercises that I walk them through in a two month structured program.
From the time that I was 6 years old my number one dream was to play professional baseball.
It turned out for me, dream #2 is helping people every single day in the most impactful way I can. Coaching.
My name is Tim Pahuta. I played professional baseball for 9 years, sold lighting fixtures for 2.5 years, and I’m currently planning to move into an RV to travel the country coaching people.
I love my business, I love coaching and I’d love to talk to anyone who wants to hear more about what I’m working on.
Thanks for reading!