Life After Baseball
This month marked 37 years since baseball legend Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, breaking Babe Ruth's career record of 714 homers. While playing for the Atlanta Braves against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Aaron's hit over the left-field fence made him the major league career home run leader from 1974 to 2007. "Hammerin' Hank" went on to finish his career with 755 home runs.
Now 77, Aaron is a businessman in Georgia. His 755 Restaurant Corp. (named after his career home runs) owns 20 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens, five Church's Chicken restaurants and two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shops. He previously owned five car dealerships near Atlanta (where he lives with his wife, Billye), but in 2007 sold all but one to concentrate on his food franchises.
Here are five more baseball veterans who found new careers that also are a big change of pace from major league baseball.
1. Curt Schilling
A six-time All-Star pitcher and World Series champ, Schilling has ventured into the world of online gaming. Before retiring from baseball in 2009, he started a Rhode Island-based video game company called 38 Studios (named after his uniform number) in 2006, according to USA Today. The company debuted its first role-playing game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, at the 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego. The 44-year-old former Boston Red Sox player has been a lifelong video game fan, and his Reckoning is due for release this fall.
2. Tom Seaver
The Hall of Fame pitcher led the New York Mets to their first World Series championship in 1969 and finished his career with 311 wins and 3,640 strikeouts, earning him the nickname "Tom Terrific." Today, the 66-year-old Seaver runs a winery in Napa Valley with his wife, Nancy. "I remember my brother-in-law asking, 'What will you do when you're done?' And I said, 'I'll go back to California and grow grapes,'" he said in an interview in Departures Magazine. GTS Vineyards (for George Thomas Seaver, his given name) produces about 450 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Seaver says he walks the vineyard every day. "I love the hands-on, the learning part of it," he told the New York Post.
3. Carmen Fanzone
Fanzone played for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs from 1970 to 1974 primarily as a third baseman. During his baseball career, he also had another passion -- playing the trumpet. Fanzone once performed the national anthem on Wrigley Field before a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also enjoyed moonlighting as a jazz musician in clubs around Chicago, according to Chicago Magazine. After retiring from baseball in 1974, Fanzone went on tour with Lou Rawls and recorded on jazz albums. Now 69, he still performs occasionally and works as a business representative for the Professional Musicians Union in Los Angeles.
4. Todd Zeile
Zeile is a former third baseman and first baseman who played for 11 major league teams during his career. Now 45 and the father of four children, Zeile is a movie producer and actor in his hometown of Los Angeles. Last year his Hollywood-based production company, Green Diamond Entertainment, released a film, I Am, which tells the story of 10 characters and their moral struggles in modern-day Los Angeles. According to ESPN, Zeile's interest in filmmaking started in 2000 after going behind the scenes of the NBC show Ed. "I was always looking for something to do once I was out of the game," he says. His previous credits include acting in the 2005 movie Dirty Deeds and appearing in two episodes of The King of Queens.
5. Turk Wendell
A former relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Wendell was known as one of the most superstitious players in the major leagues. Nowadays, the 43-year-old runs a Colorado guest ranch, the Wykota Ranch, which he named after his children, Wyatt and Dakota, according to Chicago Magazine. On 210 acres of land in the Rocky Mountains, Wendell grows corn and alfalfa, breeds game birds like pheasant and quail and raises goats, chickens and turkeys. The ranch has a rifle range and offers guided hunting and fishing treks.
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