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  • Writer's pictureCole Wilcox

Every Minor League Bus Needs a Malinowski

You can talk to any guy or girl who has been associated with minor league baseball, and they will give you a story about a bus they were on that broke down. It is a staple of the minor league lifestyle. It’s like a rite of passage, you haven’t reached peak minor league baseball until you are on the side of I-75 waiting on a replacement bus to track you down. There’s just something about a cheese wagon engine that knows it can finally give out while it’s carrying a group of guys on a 10 hour trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana. That dreaded feeling of the classic 2 am bumpy bus that you know the road ain’t causing is one that stays with you in your darkest days. The worst part is, there seems to be no way to prevent this from happening, it’s not like a mechanic can hop on every bus trip a minor league team takes, right?

Well that statement doesn’t hold true at the college level, it seems like they have finally cracked the age old issue of the cheese wagon curse. When the Pittsburg State Gorillas’ Football team was on their way to their final game, they felt the same sense of dread that every minor league player and coach had felt. I imagine they all sat up and rolled their eyes, and gathered the few items they planned to take off the bus to accompany them on the side of the interstate. Everyone except freshman long snapper Timmy Malinowski, an automotive technology major. Now, as most people know, long snappers don’t often have their time in the Sun. Malinowski saw his time to shine. He immediately jumped into action, and using the knowledge he had stored up, came to the conclusion that the bus was missing a hose clamp. He just so happened to have a Leatherman multi-tool from his backpack to attach the hose clamp and get that cheese wagon fired right back up.

An absolute legend if you ask me. This kid was a freshman, so it’s not like he had taken many classes. Malinowski is about as Pittsburgh, coal miner of a name possible, and Timmy straight up owned it. This is a kid who has grown up working on steel his entire life, and can service a car in his sleep. My favorite part of this is trying to imagine how long it took Malinowski to convince the coach and bus driver that he knew what he was doing. “I swear coach, this beast is just missing a hose clamp, and I sho enough got something in my backpack that can do the trick.” I can imagine the bus driver being real skeptical until he turned the ignition and felt that thing fire up. All this got me thinking of a time where I could have really used a Malinowski on board.

On our first road trip of the year to Augusta, we had 3 busses headed south (only perk of COVID). I, being a “W” last name, was naturally on the 3rd bus. We left the morning of the game because it was like a 2 hour drive, so we had little room for error. Well, about halfway there, we hear the pitter patter of the engine as our bus casually pulls off to the side of the road. So, as vets, we knew the routine and didn’t panic. We watched as the bus driver made a few calls, then went into action trying to figure out what was wrong. I watched out the window as the man analyzed the insides of the bus, and my hopes faded as I saw him go through his stash and pull out an all too familiar tool. As a multi-generation redneck, I know what last resort looks like, and it’s what we down South like to call Duct Tape. I immediately said “Boys, it’s gonna be awhile” as we filed out of the bus. We could have really used a Malinowski and his backpack.

Moral of the story is, teams should start strategically drafting guys with a degree in automotive technology. It just cannot hurt to have a couple guys with a mechanic background on the travel roster. Players are always looking for a way to stand out, and stick around. Well, a good idea might be to just become a minor league handyman. I guarantee you a team will think twice about releasing you if you got the bus fired up a couple times when the Duct tape came out. Don’t worry about taking grounders or hitting balls off a tee, start learning about which tools you might need to store in your overnight bag when emergency strikes. Round of applause for the Malinowskis of the world, as long as minor league baseball is played, the demand for y’all will be very very high.

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