Networking events a hit with players' wives

Networking events a hit with players' wives

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Every spring, hundreds of baseball players descend upon Arizona and Florida. Along with them, hundreds of wives and children make the same pilgrimage.

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association sought to cater to that latter group by launching a three-part series of networking events for players' spouses this Spring Training.

The third reception was hosted in Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday afternoon, where about 20 wives -- as well as one mother and a fiancee -- of current and former Major Leaguers were on hand at the Postino Wine Café Annex.

"It's great that the Alumni Association wanted to set up a program for the wives to all get to know each other," said Amanda McCarthy, whose husband, Brandon, pitches for the Dodgers. "There's so many girls that are in every single city, and in the spring -- obviously the two states -- and we all don't know each other. So it's kind of nice to have a little sisterhood. And this is a step in the right direction."

"It's cool to see a mix of all different ages and groups coming and realizing that, 'Oh wow, we can really help each other and we can share our resources,'" said Kaitlyn McNicholas, an MLBPAA special-projects assistant who helped organize the events.

"[It] really helped us see how we can further these events and really spread awareness and bring everyone together. It's a really unique niche of women."

The first two gatherings were held near the Grapefruit League in Palm Beach Gardens and Tampa, Fla., on Thursday and Friday. MLBPAA's director of membership, Kate Hutchinson, said she's hopeful it can now become an annual event.

"It's a great idea," said Deana Brown, whose husband Leon Brown played in the Minor Leagues from 1967 to 1980, appearing in 64 games for the Mets in 1976. "I support him whenever he has alumni stuff, so it's really great that they included us. To have a ladies morning out, it was nice."

The wine-and-cheese tasting also included an informal meeting about a few resources for Major League families -- including Our Baseball Lives and Home Run Sitters.

Our Baseball Lives is a resource created by Lory Ankiel, the wife of former Major Leaguer Rick Ankiel, to provide information for families transitioning to a new city. It's something Ankiel has first-hand experience with, as her husband was traded from Kansas City to Atlanta at the 2010 Trade Deadline.

"I had to get everything together, figure out where to live," Ankiel said. "I thought there should be a network so that when this happens, people don't feel overwhelmed."

Also in attendance was Ashley Rowe, the woman behind Home Run Sitters LLC, a child-care service for professional athletes. Rowe, a former teacher and nanny, established the business when she took time off work to travel with her fiancé, Kirby Yates, a pitcher in the Rays organization. She started babysitting for other baseball families.

"The only way you can find a sitter, someone reliable, is if you go through a friend or family. But your family is usually not with you and your teammates. Sometimes you don't know them because you're traded or you're new," Rowe said. "So it's kind of a nice, reliable way to go online and you have someone that's in the business of baseball and babysitting. So I kind of know both worlds."

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.