Eyre travels to Spring Training in style
Reliever and two teammates take RV from Florida to Arizona
MESA, Ariz. -- Most players rent apartments or condos in the Phoenix area during Spring Training. Some already call Arizona home. Scott Eyre brought his home with him from Florida, and he is staying in a trailer park in his new 40-foot recreational vehicle.
Eyre bought the motor home in November, and he drove it from Sarasota, Fla., to Mesa. He's staying in a park for people 55 and older, although they do make exceptions and let 40-year-olds stay. Apparently, 35-year-old left-handed relievers who play for the Cubs also are allowed. Eyre received permission from the park's owners.
"I told the lady I play for the Cubs, I don't party a lot, I don't booze up every night," Eyre said. "I said, 'If something goes wrong, I'll gladly leave.' I've been invited to dinner by some of the people there. The other day, my neighbors came over to say goodbye because they're going back home."
If you're an RV enthusiast, you'll appreciate that Eyre purchased a Tiffin Allegro motor home that has four slide-outs and three TVs. It's spacious, top of the line and surprisingly comfortable.
"It's very, very nice," said Chicago's Daryle Ward, who has stopped by to see Eyre's home on wheels. "It was something you'd feel comfortable in. You wouldn't think of it as a trailer. The seats were comfortable, even the seats you'd drive in were comfortable. It's definitely not a bad way to travel."
Eyre and his wife Laura decided it would be fun to take the family, which includes sons Caleb and Jacob, on vacation in the RV when his playing days are done.
"I'm getting older. My kids are getting older. I've played enough, I guess," said Eyre, who is in the last year of his three-year deal with the Cubs. "I'd like to play more, but, on that note, the first summer my kids are out of school and I'm not playing, we're gone. My wife said, 'Where are we going?' I said, 'We're going north on [Interstate] 75, and we're either staying north on 75 or going west on 10. And I've been west on 10, and there's not a whole lot there. I just want to travel."
They have family in Michigan and Oregon to visit. They can stop at Mount Rushmore or the Badlands or even the Corn Palace. He can drive to Major League ballparks to watch former teammates play. He'll never have to worry about finding a hotel room, just a large parking space.
"At the end of the season, I'm a free agent," Eyre said. "All the stuff we've collected over the three years in Chicago, linens and house wares and stuff, I'll be able to drive back home in case I'm not back here [with the Cubs]. If I'm back here, I'll leave it."
Eyre talked to friends who have purchased RVs before he bought one.
"It's fun," he said of his spring home. "I'm a little bored once in a while by myself all day, but you're that way in an apartment, too."
In preparation for his cross-country road trip, Eyre called Cubs pitcher Sean Gallagher and Minor Leaguer Nate Spears to ask if they wanted to ride along.
"Scott called and said, 'I'm thinking about driving to Spring Training and I'm thinking about driving an RV,'" Gallagher said. "He called me a week later and said, 'I did it. I got the RV.' It was a blast."
It cost $1,300 in gas to make the trip. Eyre guesses he got between seven to 10 miles to the gallon. A partial fill-up cost $347.
On the first day, they drove from Sarasota to the first mile marker of Texas. They made a stop along the way in Baton Rouge to see shortstop Ryan Theriot and his baseball facility there. They ate some crawfish, and Theriot's wife Johnnah made brownies. Theriot was able to store some of his in-season clothes in the RV as well.
On the second day, Gallagher and Spears were still asleep when Eyre started driving. Eyre had given them a little extra room by utilizing the slide-outs, which move the walls of the vehicle out for more space.
"They were sleeping in the front, and I had to move the slide-outs back in [to drive]," Eyre said. "Nate never woke up. Gallagher kind of rolled over, looked up and went back to sleep for an hour and a half."
They stopped at a gas station for breakfast, and then they drove through San Antonio, through El Paso and reached the Arizona border. On Day 3, Eyre was on the road early again. Spears basically slept most of the trip, Eyre said, although he did make good sandwiches.
"One of the best parts of the whole thing is we're driving down the road and Nate says, 'Can I shower while we're driving?'" Eyre said. "He showered, Gallagher showered."
Well, Gallagher tried to.
"I'm in there and Scotty is switching lanes -- I'm falling around," Gallagher said. "One time he stepped on the brakes, and I hit my head."
Not many people get whiplash in the shower.
Gallagher was allowed to drive for one stretch in Texas.
"I was a little nervous," Eyre said. "I said, 'You'll be fine. Just remember, you've got 39 feet behind where you're sitting.'"
The TVs are linked to an in-motion satellite, so the three could watch their favorite shows. They mainly played movies while on the road, and they can recite most of the one-liners from "Grandma's Boy" with ease.
"I cook out every night," Eyre said. "I'm eating pretty healthy so far. The only thing I haven't used yet is the oven. It runs on propane, but I'm not sure how it works. You can't run certain things with it. [The RV] came with a manual that's probably five inches wide."
Anyone who has driven an RV knows how quickly you realize all the things you didn't secure when you make that first turn. Eyre had a checklist.
"When we first took off the first morning, my Michael Barrett bobblehead slid off the counter because I forgot to tape him down," Eyre said. "He didn't break; he just got a bruise right on his cheek."
Eyre tried to find a RV camp near Wrigley Field so he could use it as his in-season home, but he couldn't, so he'll store his vehicle somewhere. His teammates like his home away from home.
"It's huge," Gallagher said. "It's bigger than the first apartment I had in Peoria [Ill.] -- and nicer, too."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.