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Doyle exchanges rosin for chalk

White Sox pitching prospect winds up in the classroom
October 28, 2010
Throughout the 2010 campaign, starting pitcher Terry Doyle heard his name reverberate over the loudspeakers at ballparks throughout the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues. At his offseason job, however, Doyle is responsible for his own introductions.

"Starting pitcher, No. 34, Terrrrrrry Doyle!" is now simply "Mr. Doyle," a substitute teacher presiding over high school math classes in his home state of Rhode Island.

Given its flexible schedule and compatibility with the summer-centric baseball season, substitute teaching has long been a popular choice for professional baseball players in need of offseason income. But for Doyle, the work has additional importance. He graduated from Boston College with an education degree in 2008, the same year he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox. Since then, he has alternated professional baseball with offseason teaching duties.

"I figure that my baseball career isn't going to last forever and that it's probable that, at some point down the line, I'll be a high school math teacher and baseball coach," said Doyle, speaking by phone shortly after the conclusion of the school day. "Hopefully, that's something I can put off for at least a few years, but this has been a great experience builder."

Like a flexible middle reliever, Doyle has been working where and whenever he's needed, but high school mathematics remains his preferred and most common assignment.

"I'm not always the most serious guy. But in middle school they don't always get my jokes, and I don't get theirs," said the soon-to-be 25-year-old right-hander. "High school is a bit better when it comes to that."

But comedy takes a backseat to teaching, and Doyle prefers to be in situations where he can take a hands-on approach.

"A lot of times, the [regular] teachers will just leave some worksheets for the students to do, because they don't want to leave a sub with too much responsibility," said Doyle. "But every once in a while, they'll leave a new lesson, something the kids can explore and I can help out with. That's much more entertaining for me."

Doyle enjoyed an excellent 2010 season, combining to go 12-10 with a 2.94 ERA over 27 starts split between Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. But the context in which Doyle's success occurred is often completely lost on his students.

"When [students] find out I play professional baseball, they'll ask how come I have to work in the offseason, and I'll explain 'Well, it's because I don't get paid,'" said Doyle. "Then I'll hear things like 'So what are you, Triple-A?', and when I explain I played in Single-A, they don't know what that means.

"Basically, they have no idea why I'm there [teaching]. Like, 'If you play for the White Sox, then why aren't you in Chicago?' It's all just a little bit over their heads. A lot of the stories I tell them involve who I've played with through the years and who my coaches were."

And sometimes, Doyle's Minor League background assists his teaching efforts in unexpected ways.

"One day I overhead two students speaking in Spanish, having a conversation that was not school-appropriate, and I confronted them about it," he recalled. "They looked at me like 'How did you know?' It was because rooming with Latin guys during my first year [in the Minors] helped me to learn Spanglish really well."

Doyle's interactions with students often extend beyond the parameters of the school day. He regularly recruits baseball and softball players to play catch after school, and occasionally runs into students at the local gym.

"Sometimes a student will see me there working out, and they'll be curious as to what exercises I'm doing," he said. "My workout routine is definitely a little different from the normal guy at Gold's Gym."

What it all adds up to is a comfortable and satisfying daily routine, one that allows time to stay focused on baseball while also providing some much-needed income.

"I'm lucky enough to be able to live at home right now, so I don't have to pay rent or buy too many groceries," said Doyle. "The money I make in the offseason goes toward my student loans and cellphone bills, and I save up some so that I can supplement my meal money during the season. Instead of fast food all the time, every once in a while I can get a steak dinner."

But for now, postgame steak dinners are a world away. Doyle has more pressing concerns.

"It can sometimes be a little difficult running a classroom. I'm always trying to make sure I'm doing a good job, keeping the kids in line and not getting into any trouble," he said. "That's always one of my goals -- to keep myself out of trouble."

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for