What to expect when hosting a Joe
Updated: Jun 14
Our family has been hosting college baseball players for the Hamilton Joes during the summer since 2015. It's been a fun and rewarding experience for the entire family. When we started hosting players, our kids were 13, 12 and 10. Now they are 21, 20 and 18, so they've grown up with Joes players and we keep in touch with many of them through social media. If you're considering hosting a Joe, here's what you can expect.
Request to become a host family
At any time, go to the Hamilton Joes website and click on "Host a Joe." Complete the short application and someone from the organization will be in touch with you as baseball season gets closer. There is always a need for host families, so it's very likely a player will be assigned to you for the summer.
Prepare for arrival of player
At the minimum, you should have a clean, private bedroom available for your player. We have a room above our garage with a bedroom, bathroom and living area, so that has worked perfectly. We also provide a mini-fridge and a microwave.
Once you've been assigned a player, he will reach out to you via text to let you know when he plans to arrive. The first game is in early June, and he'll come a few days or a week prior to the first game to meet the other players, practice and get a uniform. We've had players who have flown in and some who have driven. It's their responsibility to provide transportation. If they don't have a car, they make arrangements to car pool to practices and games with other players.
Set expectations Upon arrival, it's a good idea to set expectations for the summer. For example, for easy communication, we set-up a group text with me, my husband and the player. While we don't expect him to check-in all the time, we do want to know if there's something out of the ordinary (like if he is staying the night somewhere else).
We give him a tour of the house, introduce him to the dogs and provide the garage door code. We teach him how to use the washer and dryer. For one Joe, it was the first time he had to do his own laundry (I was happy to show him). But, most of them already know how. The "mom" in me will sometimes help move their laundry from washer to dryer and help fold their clothes. I just tell them that ahead of time and they appreciate it. Don't expect them to wash their sheets - it's just something they don't think about. I usually offer to do it for them at least once over the summer. This is a good chance to take a look at their room. I never go in their room without telling them in advance. Just say something like, "I'm going to go in your room on Tuesday night to grab your sheets and wash them - so I wanted to let you know ahead of time." This gives them the chance to clean-up a little. Also, be sure to provide them with a trash can and trash bags. They eat a lot of fast food and might need to be reminded to get rid of the trash.
If you have expectations of your Joe, just have a conversation with him. I always approach it as how I'd talk to my own kids. Here are some ideas about what to discuss. Where should he park? How clean do you expect him to keep his room? When do you expect a text? Can he eat in his room? We've felt so comfortable with our Joes that we've gone on vacation and left them at our house to watch our dogs.
Food, lots of food They are responsible for their own food - which, as I mentioned above, typically consists of fast food! They love Canes, Chipotle, Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's, etc. We often text them when we have dinner leftovers in the refrigerator and tell them to help themselves after a game. Even though they are fed after the games, they'll still come home and eat more! A few times a season, we'll invite our Joe to go out for a late dinner with us after a game and we will pay. They spend so much time at school and baseball that they don't have time to work and rarely have much money.
You may or may not hear from the parents of your Joe. This has varied over the years. Some years, usually if it's the player's first time with a host family, the parents are more involved. Other years, we never hear from parents. Both scenarios have worked out fine. When the parents are more involved, they typically come to games and stay at a local hotel. We've offered our place to parents to stay, but they've always declined. Some times, we've had dinner or drinks with our Joe and his parents and hang out with them during the games.
If your Joe has a girlfriend, she'll want to come watch some games. You will be asked over the course of the summer if she can stay the night. We've always allowed the girls to stay a night or two. You'll need to be prepared to respond to this request. We've enjoyed getting to know the girlfriends just as much as getting to know the players, so my advice would be to keep an open mind. We even sit with the girlfriend during the games, since they don't know anyone except their boyfriend.
Player's schedule Players will sleep-in, go to workout (they are provided a pass to the YMCA), then play games in the evening and get home late. Repeat.
For home games, they usually get back around 10:30 pm. For away games, they are typically back around midnight.
When they have a night off, we've invited them to Reds games, or to have dinner with us.
Joes games are a blast! As a host family, you'll get a season pass to the regular season and playoff games. The games are family-friendly and entertaining. There's music, food, beer and split the pot which makes for an enjoyable summer evening. It's fun to cheer on your Joe and they are happy to have fans rooting for them. Remember, they are on a new team, in a new city! When our kids were younger, they would collect autographs from the Joes players after the games.
Once a year, the Joes will have a Host Family Night. We always make it a point to get to that game early. You get to go out on the field and get a small gift and a photo with your Joe.
These are good young men The Joes play at a high level of baseball and they've put in years and years of work and training. All of our Joes, without exception, have been hard working, kind, focused and respectful. They know they've been given an opportunity to play baseball. They know their host family has made sacrifices for them to stay with them for the summer and they do all they can to make it a great experience. Now, keep in mind, they are still young men, so they can be messy, or flaky, but they are fundamentally good people. The coaches reinforce with the players that they should be treating their host families with respect.
Some players are more outgoing than others. I'd encourage you to engage with your Joe and attend games. If you don't, you'll be missing out!
Best host family memories
We have so many wonderful memories of the people we've met over the years. Here are some highlights.
Our kids playing games and cards with our Joes.
When one of our Joes turned 21 on a random weekday, I asked him if he wanted to go get a beer and he hurdled over the footstool and sprinted to get his ID.
A Joe found a stray dog at the end of the season and ended up taking it home with him.
My kid had an (unauthorized) party when we were out of town and our Joe had to come down and talk to the police officer. The police officer was so enamored with the 6'2" baseball player that he let my kid off easy.
Sitting on the porch having a heart-to-heart conversation with a Joe about his struggles in the past and his hopes and dreams for the future.
Winning split the pot two nights in a row at the Joes game and giving our Joe the pot, since he was broke!
My husband being able to watch them play and "talk baseball" with all the Joes every summer.
Getting flowers from our Joe on Family Host night.
Watching our kid's and their friend's faces light up when "their" Joe has a great play, or comes up and talks to them after a game, or gives them a shirt from their college.
Watching the Joes win the GLSCL championships in 2016, 2021 and 2022! (Note: they also won in 2010.)
Following our Joes on social media and watching their journey continue - getting engaged, etc.
Will my Joe play in the MLB? Every Joe I've asked has told me that they want to play professional baseball, but none of ours have (yet). Friends of ours hosted a Joe who did end up in the MLB. Andy Young made his MLB debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020.
Can my Joe get a job during the summer? We had a couple Joes work in the mornings during the summer. It was a grueling schedule for them, but they needed the money.
Will my Joe stay the whole summer? We've had a couple Joes never show up when their plans for the summer changed at the last minute. We've had a couple leave early - they just don't feel like it's the right fit, they get injured, or something comes up at home and they are needed.
What positions make the best Joes? We've hosted Joes who have played just about every position and they're all exciting to watch. Pitchers may not play in games as much as other positions.
Can I host more than one Joe at a time? Yes. If you have two spare rooms, you can host two players. We've done this a couple times over the years when the organization was looking for additional host families.
Some photos from over the years
Middle TN State
Middle TN State
Middle TN State
University of Toledo
College of Notre Dame
University of Toledo
Charleston Southern U
Antonio (AJ) Swader
Cleveland State CC