In March, it’s not uncommon to see over-the-hill veterans in camp looking to extend their careers for just one more season. By the same token you don’t normally see marketable 30-year-old players call it quits, but that’s what reliever Blaine Boyer did three years ago. Boyer didn’t fall out of love with baseball, but he was decidedly heartsick and missing his family back home. When the right-hander told his wife Ginsey that he wanted to retire and potentially leave a mountain of money on the table, she understood the way he felt and the reasons behind his decision.
“I grew up in a household that was broken early. My parents divorced when I was three and there was just so much inconsistency there,” Boyer told MLBTR in the Twins’ dugout prior to their afternoon contest against the Phillies. “I’ve had to live with that for a long time. I was coming and going and I wasn’t consistently there for my boys and my wife and that brought back a lot of what I went through when I was little, so she understood that. It wasn’t about me not wanting to play baseball anymore, it was much deeper.”
While Boyer’s sabbatical from the game effectively amounted to a boxer’s retirement, he was confident that he was done with baseball for good. When the pull of the sport was too strong for Boyer to resist, he and his wife came up with an unorthodox game plan: she and their two young sons would travel with Boyer on the road as much as humanly possible throughout the season.
Boyer, 33, feels as though he has found the right balance between being an active parent and doing what he feels he was put on this planet to do professionally.
“The boys, they’re 3 and 4 now, they’re at the point where they’re kind of expecting baseball season and they love it. My wife especially, she loves the atmosphere of the games, she loves sitting back and eating a hot dog, watching the boys and the seventh inning stretch and it’s just so much fun for her to be their mother watching them watch their daddy,” Boyer said. “For me, I’m able to experience this as their father and my wife always being with me, it’s kind of like the Boyer family adventure and it’s a blessing.”
For the right-hander, traveling with the family entourage means that he doesn’t have to live with regret in the present or in the future.
“I feel like God has given me the ability to throw a baseball and he hasn’t given that many people this kind of ability. So, when I have to answer to him about the gifts he has given me, I don’t want to have to say, ’Oh, I’m sorry I wasted that one.’ On top of that, I didn’t want to be 60 years old and thinking what might have been,” Boyer explained. “So, the whole no regrets mindset and still playing baseball gives me the opportunity stand up and talk about family and talk about God. Helping people understand my relationship with Jesus Christ is important to me.”
Boyer has taken his family with him all over the map, even internationally in 2013 when he pitched for Japan’s Hanshin Tigers. Boyer, who bristled at the thought of takoyaki and some of the country’s more adventurous cuisine, experienced a bit of culture shock, but he also fell in love with Japan’s baseball culture and its people. It also helped that friend Jason Standridge was pitching with Hanshin and, of course, his family was by his side.
For now, the Boyer family adventure has landed the traveling clan in Minnesota, but that could change in a matter of days. The reliever has a March 30th opt-out clause that can be exercised if he has not been added to the 40-man roster by that time. Boyer doesn’t know how that will play out yet, but he’ll have his own personal cheering section with him no matter where he winds up.