Thursday, Dec 5, 2013
All Aboard: Southern Illinois Miners
MARION -- By six in the morning, Larry Rausch has already been on the job for three hours. It's just another normal day as the bus driver for the Southern Illinois Miners.
"Coffee and vitamin B," Rausch said. "That helps me stay awake but I try to set my days so I'll be ready to go."
On this particular road trip, bus time is 7 a.m. The retired school teacher always gets to the ballpark early to make sure all the gear is loaded up in time. A four and a half hour trip to Joliet awaits.
"I try to do as much for these guys, as if it was my own family," the Perryville, Missouri native said. "I want to make sure that they are as rested as they can be, that they're ready to play."
Traveling on a bus is a big part of life for professional baseball players. This season, the Southern Illinois Miners have already made seven road trips totaling nearly 3,500 miles. By the end of the summer, the team will spend 125 hours on a bus, traveling 8,465 miles. From Traverse City, Michigan to Washington, Pennsylvania, Larry has seen it all from the drivers seat.
"Sometimes I tell people, they don't go anyplace without me," he said.
"I don't know how he does it," Miners manager MIke Pinto added. "These are long trips. He does things for us during the day, he sleeps during the game, picks us up, drives through the night and has done it safely through all these years."
After the Miners won the franchise's first Frontier League title last year, Larry received the same championship ring as the team, symbolizing his importance.
"When they give you something like this along with everyone else in the organization that had things to do with the team, you know you're working for a really good owner," Raush remarked.
Even with long hours on the road, Larry says it's all worth it.
"If it wasn't a lot of fun, I wouldn't be doing it."
Wind: 9 MPH
Humidity: 76 %