This 26-Year-Old Quit His Lucrative Real Estate Job for a Chance in Baseball—Now He's an MLB Outfielder

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Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Stone Garrett's lifelong baseball dreams came true on Wednesday, when he made his big-league debut at age 26. And it's all due to his LinkedIn profile.

Garrett collected his first two Major League hits — both doubles — against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday evening. And had it not been for a serendipitous message on LinkedIn, he might not have realized his dream of playing for an MLB team, he tells CNBC Make It.

In 2020, the Miami Marlins organization released Garrett as teams trimmed their minor league rosters during the Covid-19 pandemic. Garrett already had a real estate license — he got it in 2018, as a way to make extra income during offseasons — and decided to make selling homes his full-time career.

That summer, he started selling homes in the Houston area, where he'd grown up. Fast forward to March 2021, when Garrett logged onto his LinkedIn profile and found a message from Dan Budreika, a former video coordinator with the Marlins. Budreika had written to wish Garrett luck as a real estate agent, but Garrett figured he'd take a shot at getting back into the game.

"I said, 'Hey, do you know anybody that needs an outfielder? I feel like I can still compete at Double-A or above,'" Garrett told the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. "He said, 'No, but let me ask around.'"

Budreika connected Garrett to another former Marlins employee, Brett West, now a Diamondbacks scout. Within two days, Garrett signed a minor league contract with Arizona and had an invitation to spring training.

Garrett says it was the chance he needed: Real estate, after all, "can always wait."

"I knew I just needed an opportunity, a chance to be on a professional baseball team again," he says. "And there was a good chance, with my work ethic and drive, that I could reach this level."

'I was making literally 10 times my baseball paycheck'

Before Garrett's conversation with Budreika, his budding real estate career was actually going pretty well. He says he sold roughly 10 homes since 2019, and the pay was significantly better than his minor league salary.

"I was making literally 10 times my baseball paycheck to sell one house," Garrett says. "So, I mean, it was great. But I didn't want that to be my job."

The plan, he says, was to use real estate as a way to make some money while figuring out his next steps. He wanted to play at least one more season of baseball, and figured one of the many teams in independent leagues not affiliated with MLB might be his best shot.

"I said I was going to play for a year," Garrett says. "And if that didn't work out, if I didn't get picked up [by an MLB team], I would just do real estate full time."

Instead, he's made the most of his opportunity with the Diamondbacks. Last year, he hit 25 home runs with the team's Double-A affiliate. He followed that up this season by hitting 28 homers in Triple-A, in just 103 games. That power display finally earned Garrett a major league call-up this week.

Garrett is far from the only professional athlete to have a LinkedIn profile, but he's likely one of the very few who have used the professional networking platform to land a spring training invitation.

Another MLB outfielder, Joey Gallo — currently with the Los Angeles Dodgers — created a LinkedIn profile in February amid a labor dispute that threatened to delay or even potentially cancel the 2022 MLB season. The profile appeared to have been created in jest, and the season got underway after a brief delay.

NFL quarterback John Wolford joked last year that he could delete his LinkedIn profile if his stint as the Los Angeles Rams' interim starting quarterback proved successful. Wolford, now the Rams' backup quarterback, won a Super Bowl ring with the team earlier this year. His LinkedIn page remains active.

Then, there are superstar athletes like Tom Brady and Stephen Curry, both of whom keep active LinkedIn profiles that highlight both their sports careers and their outside pursuits, from startups to investment vehicles.

Garrett says he plans to his LinkedIn profile active, even if it's just for "nostalgia."

"It brought me this job," he says with a chuckle. "It literally got me to the big leagues."

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