It took 10 seasons of playing minor league baseball before Joe Redfield earned his first extended stay in the majors last season.
It took 10 minutes for the former Miraleste High standout to learn his first lesson.
Redfield, then an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, got caught in traffic driving to a Pirates-Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Although he was only 10 minutes late, Redfield thought he had missed the start of the game.
"I panicked," Redfield said. "I couldn't find the players' entrance and I didn't know how to get in without a ticket. I ran to the ticket office and said: 'I'm a player and I'm late. Please let me in.' "
Veteran Pirate outfielder Gary Redus and utility infielder Curtis Wilkerson chastised the visibly shaken rookie. Redfield's clothes were soaked with perspiration.
"They gave me the Sammy award for making the bonehead move of the day," Redfield said. "I thought I would never hear the end of it."
Welcome to the show where veteran ballplayers run a caste system and recently promoted minor leaguers are subject to scrutiny.
"Every player goes through an initiation period when they reach majors," Kansas City Royals minor leaguer Sean Berry said. "You go through it every time you're called up."
Berry, the former West Torrance High baseball and football player, had three stints with the Royals during the 1991 season. He is currently playing third base for the Royals' triple-A affiliate in Omaha, Neb.
Rookies are taught by the veterans the proper etiquette of being a major leaguer.
Some of the rookie rules are:
* Always sit at the front of a plane or bus. Veterans sit in the back.
* Ride two to a seat unless there are empty seats.
* Never carry your own bags and always tip.
* Never treat a veteran to dinner or a drink.
* Fetch gloves, baseballs, bats, food, drinks or anything a veteran might want.
Violation of these rules are punishable by a fine and nonstop ribbing.
"The first time I got up (to the majors), Gerald Perry and Willie Wilson used to order me around," Berry said. "The batting instructor then was John Mayberry and he told me it was bad luck not to do things for them. It was a tough place to work, but I would rather be there than in the minors."
Berry, 26, hoped to make the major league club in spring training, but fell in the pecking order when the Royals acquired third baseman Gregg Jefferies in a five-player deal with the New York Mets. Berry is batting .298 with 13 home runs, 47 runs batted in and five stolen bases.
"I can hit more home runs, drive in more runs and play better defense than Jefferies," Berry said. "He's a little more consistent with the bat and has more major league experience. I can play in the major leagues and I hope the Royals give me a chance. If not, I hope I get a chance to play for the (National League expansion team) Colorado Rockies next season."
The 6-foot, 201-pound Berry has the speed and range to play shortstop and may return to the Royals as utility infielder before the season is over.
Redfield's future became brighter Friday when the Pirates traded starting third baseman Steve Buechele to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Danny Jackson.
Pirate utility infielder John Wehner and Kevin Young, who was promoted from the Buffalo Bisons, the Pirates' triple-A affiliate in the American Assn., are getting the first chance to replace Buechele. Redfield, 31, will start at third for Buffalo and will be the heir apparent if the other two fail.
It may be the break Redfield has been looking for. He pulled a quadriceps earlier this season and has been limited to pinch-hitting. He is batting .250 with two home runs and 14 RBI.
If it appears his playing days are nearing an end, he is hopeful of remaining in baseball as a coach.
"I'm learning what it takes to be a manager," Redfield said. "I think I'm qualified. I understand the game a lot better and I get along with the players really well."
Redfield also knows how to break a few rules and survive.
Catcher Jorge Pedre (Harbor College) and his wife celebrated the birth of their first child last week. . . . Third baseman Chris Donnels (South Torrance High, Loyola Marymount) had a run-scoring double to give Tidewater the lead in a 4-2 victory over Rochester June 30. . . . Second baseman Darrel Deak (Loyola Marymount) batted .361 in June with 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 runs batted in for Springfield, a Class-A team for the St. Louis Cardinals. . . . First baseman Dan Melendez (St. Bernard) batted .318 through 11 games after joining Bakersfield, the Dodgers' Class-A team in the California League. Melendez played for College World Series champion Pepperdine. He went three for four with two RBI June 25 against Modesto.
Before being demoted to Shreveport, first baseman Dan Lewis (El Camino College) had a home run for triple-A Phoenix in a 13-11 loss to Las Vegas June 29. . . . First baseman Tate Seefried (El Segundo) batted .212 for the New York Yankees Class-A team in Greensboro, N.C., but played in each of the Hornets first 78 games. . . . Shortstop Denny Hocking (West Torrance) batted .567 (17 for 30) in a seven-game stretch with 10 runs and four doubles for Visalia, the Minnesota Twins' Class-A team in the California League.
Catcher Miah Bradbury (Loyola Marymount) had a game-tying home run and game-winning RBI double to lead Peninsula past Durham, 3-2, in 11 innings June 25. . . . Catcher Tony Kounas (Loyola Marymount) has 17 doubles to lead Class A San Bernardino and teammate Ken Pennington (El Camino), an outfielder, has driven in 13 runs with only 16 hits.