Hosting Crushers players is a unique opportunity

The Lake Erie Crushers baseball team has a great opportunity for families to offer home to professional players during the 2023 season.

With Major League Baseball spring training approaching, the Frontier League team is in Northeast Ohio Re-open the Host Family Program for the season.

The program is open to anyone with a place to field a backup baseball player or two, said Tom Crammig, co-owner of Avon-based Crushers.

Often times, the host families are single parents or parents of baseball-obsessed youngsters, so this is an opportunity to keep that flow going.

Obviously, in the Frontier League, players don’t have contracts like they do in Major League Baseball.

These are not year round positions.

So clubs try to help them with housing.

Being a host family is not a full-time endeavor, Krammig notes, as are players.

The host family can be a single person, a single parent, and even grandparents.

They can live in a house, cottage, apartment or condo, as long as there is enough space.

Players often come and go, as the team travels to away matches.

Plus, gamers are gone most summer nights, as most of the Crushers games are under the lights.

The Crushers play a 96-game schedule, and 48 are on the road.

Players will be away for six days on a road trip, then go home for six days.

So, players are in and out.

Bam and Jim Barrett have served as host family for the Crushers since the application was made during the team’s inaugural season in 2009.

Jim Barrett saw an opportunity to work as a host family after watching a TV show in 2009 and later convinced his wife that they should go for it.

The pair has hosted players from Nevada, Texas, Pittsburgh, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.

In the past 10 years, they’ve had 100 players go home.

Sometimes, Barretts will start the season with one player and end with a different one.

Whether through trade, injuries, or other baseball circumstances, players would often jump from team to team and were in and out of the Barrett family’s life.

Although the hosting job is not paid, it does come with perks.

Host families receive season tickets to Crushers home games, access to two host families and player parties and a semi-permanent place in the players’ lives.

Hosting the players was a great experience for the Barretts, and they were even invited to the weddings of the former players they lived with.

But, the Barretts have kept in touch with many of the players via emails and Facebook.

Even more exciting for the couple is that two of the players they lived with signed MLB contracts

One of those players is pitcher Jake Pilarski.

Pilarski, a Pittsburgh native, was recently selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers and its developmental system for 2023 spring training.

Pilarski told Morning Journal reporter Martin McConnell that his first year of professional baseball was with the Lake Erie Crushers, who signed him in early June 2021.

Pilarski was living in South Carolina at the time and answered a phone call calling him to Mercy Health Stadium.

The Barretts already had another player in their house when Pilarski arrived.

However, the family welcomed him with open arms and provided more than just the basics.

Pilarsky had never had a host family and everything was new to him.

For Pilarski, he admits, the experience with the Barrett family has been positive.

He had a family bond with people who were not related to him.

But he described the Barrett family as wonderful and that they were great to him during his time in their home.

Barrett was really supportive of Pilarski on the field and gave him everything he needed to be successful.

Pilarski admits he owes some of his success to the Barrett family because they helped him get a foothold in northeastern Ohio during his time with the Lake Erie Crushers.

Therefore, there is a unique opportunity for families to split during the 2023 Crushers season.

The family may be housing the next Major League Baseball star.

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