In August 2019, Randy Dobnak received a life-changing call from the Minnesota Twins: The franchise was promoting him to the big leagues.
The 24-year-old, who spent the past two years pitching in the minor leagues, might have to cut back on his side hustle: According to his LinkedIn profile, he's been driving for Uber and Lyft since October 2017 — and he's an excellent driver with a "4.99/5 Uber driver rating," his Twitter profile reads.
"I have all five star [reviews] except for one," Dobnak told MLB.com in August. "I have one four-star. I'm hoping it was a mistake. I don't remember doing anything bad."
The right-handed pitcher played for four years at Alderson Broaddus University, a small Division II school in West Virginia, and went undrafted after college despite a desire to play professionally. "I talked to a few different teams — six or seven — and the [Toronto] Blue Jays followed me for about three years," he told podcast host Darren Wolfson on an episode of "Scoop." "But nobody ever came to see me play. Every time they would plan on it, we'd either get rained out or snowed out."
After graduating in 2017 with a degree in accounting, Dobnak joined the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), a four-team independent league that plays out of Michigan.
Not many players make it from the USPBL to the majors — and Dobnak was prepared to walk away from the sport. "When I went to play [independent] ball, I said I'll try this for a year," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If nothing happens, I'll move on with my life."
It didn't take long for an MLB team to discover him: About a month after joining the USPBL, the Twins signed him. The past two years, he's progressed through the team's minor league organization, moving up from rookie ball and Single-A ball — the lowest levels of the minors — to Triple-A ball, which is the closest level to the majors.
Minor league players don't make much money. Those at the lowest level, which is where Dobnak started, earn $1,100 a month. Players in Double-A, the next level up, can expect to earn about $6,000 a month and those in Triple-A make, on average, about $10,000 a month, Forbes reports.
Dobnak made his major league debut on August 9, but just because he was called up doesn't mean he gets to stay. It's common for players to be sent back and forth between the majors and minors.
While he's in the majors, though, he'll earn more money. The minimum salary for a major leaguer in 2019 is $555,000 — if you're like Dobnak and called up from the minors to the majors mid-season, the $555,000 salary "is pro-rated over a 187-day season," SB Nation explains, "so each day in the big show earns a player just shy of $3,000."
Regardless of whether Dobnak is pitching in the minors or majors at any given time, he's not giving up on his dreams: "You have to know that you're good enough to compete against whoever is in front of you," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "You have to be confident, be in control. I have confidence that I can compete with anybody. I'll never give up."
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