Jeremy Barfield has gone from driving a baseball to driving a limo.
The 22-year-old Oakland outfield prospect suited up for the Class A Advanced Stockton Ports in 2010, hitting .292 with 17 home runs and 92 RBIs. He underwent knee surgery immediately following the season, however, and needed to find offseason employment that wouldn't be too physically demanding.
As it turned out, the answer to this conundrum was just a few mouse clicks away.
"My brother [Phillies infielder Josh Barfield] and I are living here in Arizona, and one day he was looking for something on Craigslist and found a 'Driver Wanted' posting," recalled Barfield. "At first I didn't know if it was a scam, but I checked it out and talked to the owner of the company. ... It's turned out to be a perfect fit. The hours are real flexible, and I needed to switch things up a bit following my surgery."
Indeed, the job seems tailor-made for a rehabbing baseball professional.
"Nearly every single day I've been able to get some work in, and I've had some of the longest days you can imagine," said Barfield. "On some days I've been up at 4:30 or 5 to take someone to the airport, and then come back to take someone else, then physical therapy for my knee, then go hit, run and throw, then go back to the limo to drive more people. It's busy, but that's how I like it."
It's also a very social job, and the easygoing Barfield says when he's driving, "the privacy shade is never up."
"Every single time it comes out that I'm a baseball player. Every single time," he laughed. "I don't advertise it, but as I'm helping them get in [to the limo] they'll see I'm a big tall guy, and then it's like 'Do you play basketball? No? Well, you've got to play something!' And that's how it starts."
It usually ends with the customer receiving a quick tutorial on Minor League Baseball.
"People are absolutely clueless about how Minor League Baseball works," he said. "I'll tell them I play in the Minors for Oakland, and they'll then ask 'Well, when are you getting drafted?' So many [of my customers] seem to think that the Minors are some sort of semi-pro league."
These customers generally fall into one of two categories -- business traveler or partygoer. The former demographic is comprised of some of Phoenix's more formidable movers and shakers, but the latter is a bit more colorful.
"You do see a lot of drunk people, but it's a lot of fun," said Barfield. "Even though it's often more of an older crowd, they can still get rowdy. ... One night I took some people to the BCS National Championship Game, Auburn fans, and -- oh, my goodness -- afterwards they were in just about the best mood ever. They even tried to put a tiger tail on the limo. ... Absolutely, things like that are what make this such a great gig. It definitely beats sitting at a desk all day."
The job is not without its challenges, of course. In particular, maneuvering what Barfield calls a "Mafia-style" stretch limo can be tricky.
"After I got hired, the owner of the company took me through a crash course. Not literally, fortunately," he said. "You've just got to take everything wide, and good luck with the rear view mirror. There's a rear view camera, and that helps, but it all takes some getting used to."
Barfield will be reporting to Spring Training in just a few weeks but is more than willing to return to limo driving following the 2011 campaign.
"Oh, definitely," he said. "This has worked out perfectly."
Nonetheless, Barfield has no plans to brag about his good fortune to his teammates. To do so could earn him the nickname of "Lloyd Christmas," in homage to a limo driving imbecile memorably played by Jim Carrey in the 1994 film.
"I don't want this secret to get out there too much, but guys are always telling stories about what they did [in the offseason] and I'm sure mine will come out eventually," said Barfield. "They're probably going to start thinking I was in Dumb and Dumber."