When Bubba Trammell fell off the Big League radar in 2004, after a season with Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate, I just sort of figured he’d hit the end of the road and would spend the rest of his days bow-hunting with Matt Ginter and Rick Reed. I figured he’d be fine with that.

But it turns out that his story was more complicated than that, and that it isn’t over yet. The 35-year old is currently spending some quality time in small-town Maryland, as he goes about resuming his career in the Orioles organization. He started at the very bottom, with the Cal Ripken-owned New York-Penn League Aberdeen Ironbirds, which is where the Cecil Whig‘s Greg Dulli Mike Phelps caught up with him.

Trammell™s mother and sister had both been diagnosed with cancer (in 2004) and on top of that, he was going through a divorce with his wife.

œI™ve always loved the game ¦ but family came first, he said. œIt was tough mentally, but I™ve always been taught that family™s first and then your career and that™s the way I did it.

œNow everything™s fine at home so I wanted to go back to my first love, and that™s baseball.

But not without yet another bump in the road.

Trammell was supposed to begin his season in Double-A Bowie, but tore his meniscus during spring training. His rehab assignment from the Baysox led him to Ripken Stadium, where the veteran is literally a man amongst boys.

Trammell is the team™s elder statesman by 11 years, but that hasn™t kept him from enjoying the experience.

œActually, that™s kept me going because I enjoy talking to these guys, Trammell said. œThey™ve taken me right in and acted like I™m just one of them. I tell them anything I see or if I can help out at any time, they ask me and I tell them what I think. It™s kind of nice to be able to do that.

The helpful advice has been well received by the crowd of 20-somethings, many of them in their first season of pro ball, and all of them, like Trammell, striving for the ultimate goal.

œIt™s awesome, IronBirds outfielder and 2007 12th-round draft pick Wally Crancer said. œTo be your first season and play in the outfield with a former big leaguer, you learn a lot. He™s been everywhere, so anything he says you kind of pick his brain and listen to what he has to say. He™s not just any old guy, he™s been through everything.

Considering Fernando Tatis’s 56 at-bats with the Orioles last year, it’s hard to say this wasn’t a good choice of organization for Bubba, but good luck to the guy.