Despite the millions earned in Major League Baseball, the minor leagues are filled with players only pocketing around $1,000 a month as they chase a dwindling dream of making it big.
It's a breadline salary so low that it has sparked a class-act lawsuit against major teams.
But one man thinks another way out is for minor leaguers to take their professional skills and switch them to another ball game.
Julien Fountain, the former fielding coach for Pakistan's Test cricketers who also played baseball for Great Britain, is recruiting American players to a scheme he calls Switch Hit 20
-- aimed at taking the inherent aptitude and athleticism of ballplayers and training them in the nuances of Twenty20 cricket.
"I'm not trying to take players away from a baseball career," says Fountain, who had tryouts with the Royals, the White Sox and the Mets
, before coaching some of cricket's top international teams using skills learned in the ballpark.
"But any current minor leaguers who feel they aren't going to make it, or guys who have recently been cut or quit because they simply cannot afford to carry on; they are perfect for a career in modern cricket. And the key things for these guys is that it pays considerably better than the Gulf Coast League."
It's something he's already done once. After leaving his post with Pakistan last year, he converted a group of Korean baseball players into a national cricket team that reached the quarterfinals of the Asian Games this fall.
"Having moved back and forth between the two sports myself, I know the potential these guys have for success in T20 cricket," says Fountain.
"I was the first to introduce baseball fielding techniques to international cricket, because a major league outfielder will out-throw a professional cricketer every time. This is a sport that Americans can do well at."
Minor leaguer Boomer Collins has been chasing the dream of the big leagues since he was a boy. His looks, his build, the way he talks and even his name are as near to the definition of an American ballplayer as you're going to get.
But beyond the square jaw and the all-state honors as both outfielder and quarterback, there's one thing that makes him different to every other guy out there on the diamond.
He wants to be the greatest cricket player the world has ever seen.
Thomas Collins III got the nickname "Boomer" thanks to the tornado crashing past the Texas hospital where he was born in June 1989.
A couple of decades later and his .374 batting average, with 13 home runs in 60 junior-year games at Dallas Baptist, saw him eventually signed by the Blue Jays.
His story since then is depressingly similar to thousands like him, becalmed in the minor leagues on a poverty-line salary of $1,200 a month.
"I'm always an optimist. I'm 25 years old. This year will probably prove a lot. I want to make the big leagues and I'm going to work my butt off until it happens or doesn't happen," Collins said in his break between working an eight-hour milk delivery shift and a full afternoon of offseason training.
Collins is one of the first signups to Switch Hit 20, and talks with surprising enthusiasm about a sport he has only seen on YouTube links sent to him by Fountain.
Cricket's revolution 11 years ago into Twenty20 or T20 -- with games taking three hours instead of five days -- has seen sleepy spectators replaced with raucous crowds, batters swinging for the fences instead of blocking balls, cheerleaders on the sidelines, and the creation of new competitions.
The annual Indian Premier League, for instance, awards the best players seven-figure contracts for a season lasting just eight weeks.
Collins hopes it can save him from 3.45am wakeup calls and the end of his athletic career, but believes he has something to contribute as well.
"I've always wanted to do something to change the world -- something that I can put my stamp on," he says.
"Jackie Robinson did it for African-Americans in baseball. We can do it for Americans in cricket.
"The athleticism that Americans can bring to the table could revolutionize the game of cricket even more to become a bigger, faster, stronger sport.
"Look at soccer now. That all came from American players making a stand in what was a minority sport over here.
"If you would've said 'soccer' about five years ago people would've said, "Get outta here, man". Now everyone's watching the World Cup."
Another player hoping to break the mold is middle infielder Jordan Dean, a 24-year-old drafted by the Tigers in 2012 but now with Illinois independents the Schaumburg Boomers -- and studying for an M.B.A. as a Plan B.