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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mike Busch made two hard decisions, both led him to baseball

Mike Busch 1990 Great Falls Dodgers card
Mike Busch made two big decisions in his career. Both ended up part of his major league journey. But the second decision, led to his arrival in the bigs being much less than he hoped.

Busch's first decision led him to baseball over football. A tight end and and infielder at Iowa State, Busch got drafted in both sports, by Tampa Bay in football and by the Dodgers in baseball.

He chose baseball.

"Football won't come back into the picture unless I falter something terrible," Busch told The Des Moines Register as his first pro baseball season concluded in 1990. "(I) feel real confident with baseball. I'm happy with my situation."

Busch soon moved up and made AAA by 1993 and 1994. He then made the majors in late-August 1995.

But a decision he made that spring in 1995, during the strike, to play baseball instead of sit it out, led to a harsh arrival once he did get there. Ostracized by his teammates, he was cheered as an underdog by fans, The Los Angeles Times wrote later.

After telling The Times he had no regrets about his decision. The paper noted he paused and appeared to become emotional: "I still consider this to be the best day of my life," he told The Times.

Busch's career began in 1990, taken by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the draft out of Iowa State.

In football, the Buccaneers selected Busch in the 10th round, but he did no sign. Instead, he headed for rookie Great Falls with the Dodgers.

"It was the hardest decision I ever had to make," Busch told The Tampa Bay Times after his 1995 major league call up, before correcting himself, noting his then situation. "Well, one of the hardest."

Busch got into 61 games at Great Falls and hit .327. He saw just 21 games in 1991, at high-A Bakersfield, but returned for a full 1992 campaign and moved up to AA San Antonio. He hit .238 over 115 games there.

For 1993, he arrived at AAA Albuquerque. He hit .283 that year there, then returned to AAA for 1994, on the 40-man roster that spring, and hit .263. He didn't make Los Angeles either campaign.

Then came the strike, and replacement baseball. Busch played to help support his family, including his new daughter. When he arrived, he sat alone on the bench and in the clubhouse. As word of his treatment got out, fans offered their support, The Times wrote.

"But as much as it hurt, it was still a dream come true for me," Busch told The Times in spring 1996. "I wasn't going to let what happened ruin that. And the fans, wow, I just wished I could have formally thanked them for their support. They helped me get through it."

Busch got into 13 games for the Dodgers in 1995. He went 4 for 17, with three of his hits home runs. He then returned to Los Angeles for 38 more games in 1996. He hit .217, with four more home runs.

Busch continued playing for five more seasons, though he didn't see the majors again. He saw AAA Buffalo with Cleveland in 1997, then played in Korea for 1998. He spent his final three seasons in the independent Northern League, including 2000 and 2001 with independent Sioux City.

He then spent five seasons in independent ball as a manager, including four seasons at Calgary. By 2012, he was back in Iowa, working as a financial advisor.
Mike Busch 1990 Great Falls Dodgers card
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,375
Made the Majors:1,198-35.5%-X
Never Made Majors:2,177-64.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 497
10+ Seasons in the Minors:290

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