Baseball and Education: Padres Lead

March 18, 2012

Fact: Between 1962 to 2000, 66 percent of players who had an education package written into their contract used at least a portion of it.

Dressed for the field, with their glove in hand, players sat outside on picnic benches waiting for us to speak. Coaches were lined up in the back. I hoped that they could hear me. Not just my voice but also my message. Padres’ Manager of Player Development and International Operations, Juan Lara, introduced us, and we began our presentation.

Before we presented to the team, we sat down with Juan, and discussed our customized online degree program. Juan had a ton of questions for us. I liked that because it meant he cared. Juan played baseball only until the 10th grade. He confessed, “I couldn’t hit.”

Sure, baseball has its well known, on-field heroes, but much of baseball is led by those who have never played professionally. These leaders love baseball, the people in it, and what the game stands for. Juan is one of these leaders. Each day, he supports the players and coaches, so they can be their best in baseball. But he also thinks of what they can be off the field too.

Major League Baseball has a scholarship program to help players pay for their education. The scholarship and its amount are negotiated at signing. Players then have 2 years after their release date to use their funds. Some players use their money and many do not. The Padres encourage players to take advantage of their scholarship and to finish their college degree.

After our presentation, about 30 players and coaches came up for more information. Juan was pleased. One player took my card and warned his friend, “I’m going to get my Master’s and then take over the world.” I smiled.

You never know what you can accomplish with an education.

-To read more about Justine’s journey through spring training, visit