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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Inside Look into the Harsh Conditions of Minor League Baseball | Bleacher Report

Even the MLBPA does nothing to help.

Ironically, organized baseball has more than enough money, if not to completely overhaul the plight of the minor leaguer, to at least alleviate it. It just doesn’t have anyone telling it that it must.

In fact, Major League Baseball will tell you that if it did alleviate things, players wouldn’t work as hard to make it to the top; they wouldn’t want it as badly if the minors were comfortable.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:24 PM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues

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   1. Cris E Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4706687)
You don't have to pay them much more, but access to decent medical care, better language instruction and a per diem that allowed actual food would probably improve the product on the field. You might even draw more athletes to the game (vs football, basketball, college, etc) if life in the minors wasn't straight out of Dickens. It's crazy that these kids are expected to learn baseball while hacking through this much underbrush along the way.
   2. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4706690)
I need to bookmark this link for the next time I find someone bemoaning how unfair it is that their kid's 2nd grade teacher gets paid so much less than Alex Rodriguez. Entry-level teachers live like kings and queens compared to entry-level ballplayers.

working stiffs daily have their souls slowly snuffed out in torturous professions established by Satan himself.

I had no idea Hayhurst also used to work as an engineer for a global telecom company based in Sweden.
   3. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4706700)
Most minor league players just provide competition for the actual prospects. So I suppose there's no incentive for teams to spend money on players that are replaceable.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4706706)
access to decent medical care, better language instruction and a per diem that allowed actual food would probably improve the product on the field


If I owned a team this would be one of my priorities. Forget about the fact that it's the right thing to do, there's a competitive advantage at work. Given the amount of money running around the game you're telling me teams can't afford a few million bucks each year for quality medical care, a nutritionist and a cook at each minor league team and someone to help the younger kids acclimate. Teach them basic interview techniques (the Crash Davis Method), how to balance a checkbook, that kind of thing. I would have it set up so if the players wanted they did not ever have to eat out or even cook a meal for themselves all year.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4706709)
So I suppose there's no incentive for teams to spend money on players that are replaceable.


Willie Bloomquist just laughs and counts his $14,135,000 again.
   6. thetailor Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4706764)
Willie Bloomquist just laughs and counts his $14,135,000 again.

Only $11.135M before this year, so let's say he retired at that point just for fun for a second. Let's say agent's commission is 10%. Willie's down to about $10M. After taxes he's probably taking home $5M.

That's a princely sum, but at age 36, he's spent about 18 of his adult years earning it. That comes out to $277,777 per year after taxes, with a broken down body and no other skills or experience for the rest of his life.

He did very well, even relative to MLB'ers at large, but considering the risks involved and the overwhelming odds that you don't make it -- I dunno man, that's not that amazing of a payoff even for someone who succeeds.
   7. thetailor Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4706773)
I always feel bad for the players who make it but never get a real FA contract.

Look at a guy like Benny Agbayani. He made it at 27 but flamed out before he could do anything (I guess he went to Japan and made a bunch of money but not sure how much).

1999, 27, New York Mets, $200,000
2000, 28, New York Mets, $220,000
2001, 29, New York Mets, $260,000
2002, 30, Colorado Rockies, $600,000

That's 1.28M before tax, without an agent (which he probably didn't have until the COL contract). Not sure who I am talking to or why, but man, these are the guys that did well -- top 0.01%.
   8. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4706777)
Everybody has an agent, no?
   9. KT's Pot Arb Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4706783)
He did very well, even relative to MLB'ers at large, but considering the risks involved and the overwhelming odds that you don't make it -- I dunno man, that's not that amazing of a payoff even for someone who succeeds.


But Willie never succeeded!

Are there any enlightened organizations that actually invest to insure their minor leaguers can at least eat right? What about the Cardinals?
   10. SoCalDemon Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4706784)
I have a PhD, and this will be the first year in my life I will make more than 10% of 278K after taxes. $5 million earned by the time you are 36, assuming you haven't done anything stupid, should set you up pretty comfortably. Assuming he has saved half (which really shouldn't be that difficult, with that kind of income, and assuming a 5% rate of return, that should give him 100K a year (in real-world dollars, taking into account 3% inflation) for the rest of his life. I'd be pretty happy with that.
   11. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4706785)
That's a princely sum, but at age 36, he's spent about 18 of his adult years earning it. That comes out to $277,777 per year after taxes, with a broken down body and no other skills or experience for the rest of his life.

He did very well, even relative to MLB'ers at large, but considering the risks involved and the overwhelming odds that you don't make it -- I dunno man, that's not that amazing of a payoff even for someone who succeeds.
First, you do realize that that's almost $300k/yr after taxes even if his financial adviser is a complete idiot, don't you? You also realize that since he's been in the league 10 years he gets a $185k/yr pension?

That's a pretty secure future built on a pretty secure foundation.

EDIT: Even Agbayani is going to get (or is getting) a significant pension for his short career- after 43 days of MLB service time you're guaranteed $12K/yr, so he gets, what, $50K/yr for appearing in 383 games in his career?
   12. SoCalDemon Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4706787)
And that is assuming he doesn't earn another penny; with his grit, I am assuming he'll be able to get a third-base coach position somewhere.
   13. SoCalDemon Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4706789)
I didn't even think about the pension. Yeah, he's set.
   14. Randy Jones Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4706792)
You also realize that since he's been in the league 10 years he gets a $185k/yr pension?

Don't forget the free healthcare for life(which you get with a single day on a MLB roster).
   15. SandyRiver Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4706797)
I think the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, Bosox AA affiliate, still offers its players the opportunity to live with local families during the regular and postseason, pretty sure it's gratis for the player, don't know if the club reimburses the family. Their actual salary is probably comparable to AA in general.
   16. Swedish Chef Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4706800)
I had no idea Hayhurst also used to work as an engineer for a global telecom company based in Sweden.

Ooooh, that must be the company that was so in love with three-letter acronyms that they ran out of them.

I'm working at a mobile phone maker in Sweden so it's not hard to guess where I spend my days. That's wholly part of a Japanese conglomerate now, though.
   17. TDF, situational idiot Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4706802)
Oh, and even someone like Bloomquist is getting a check from Topps, and Strat-O-Matic, and EA Sports, and anyone else who licenses from MLB or MLBPA before he signs a contract for any endorsements.
   18. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4706811)
You also realize that since he's been in the league 10 years he gets a $185k/yr pension?

Don't forget the free healthcare for life(which you get with a single day on a MLB roster).


I notice you don't mention the Death Panels.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4706818)

I notice you don't mention the Death Panels.


Or the Government Takeover of Baseball Healthcare.
   20. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4706834)

Hayhurst seems like a nice-enough guy, but his articles are rarely anything more than a disjointed collection of complaints and clichés.

If life in minor league baseball was so tough, a lot more players would be walking away, and the independent leagues probably wouldn't exist at all. And if minor leaguers want better pay and working conditions, they should agitate for them like workers in every other industry on the planet, rather than wait until after retirement to whine like entitled brats. (Sorry, but "MLB has lots of money; those meanies should give us more!" isn't a compelling argument.)
   21. DL from MN Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4706843)
MLB doesn't negotiate with minor league players regarding their pay, it negotiates with major league players on minor league pay. All they can do at the moment is ##### that the MLBPA isn't representing them and hope the major leaguers remember how much of a pain in the ass it was in the minors. A pretty simple back of the envelope calculation showed that an extra $500k per year per organization would take care of these issues.
   22. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4706855)
A pretty simple back of the envelope calculation showed that an extra $500k per year per organization would take care of these issues.

The average ML team has ~200 minor leaguers. $500,000 divided by 200 comes out to an additional $2,500 per player per year. That wouldn't come close to taking care of the "sleeping on the floor," "eating peanut butter and jelly 7 days per week" problems that Hayhurst alleges.
   23. tfbg9 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4706861)
MLB doesn't negotiate with minor league players regarding their pay, it negotiates with major league players on minor league pay.


Elaborate, please. I did not know this...
   24. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4706863)
Elaborate, please. I did not know this...

Minor leaguers have no union, and all attempts at forming one have failed.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4706869)
If life in minor league baseball was so tough, a lot more players would be walking away, and the independent leagues probably wouldn't exist at all.


By that standard, earning minimum wage at two part-time jobs isn't so tough, either. If it were, they could all just get better jobs, right?
   26. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4706874)
By that standard, earning minimum wage at two part-time jobs isn't so tough, either. If it were, they could all just get better jobs, right?

Swing and a miss.
   27. Cris E Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4706891)
The average ML team has ~200 minor leaguers. $500,000 divided by 200 comes out to an additional $2,500 per player per year. That wouldn't come close to taking care of the "sleeping on the floor," "eating peanut butter and jelly 7 days per week" problems that Hayhurst alleges.

I think under these circumstances $2500 would go a very long way. He describes living on $120/week in spring training, and making $800/month his first year. Adding $400/month for six months makes a *huge* difference to those guys. They'll still live like beasts, but not homeless beasts.
   28. DL from MN Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4706904)
If you figure in the savings in signing bonuses due to draft slotting and the international pool MLB just took $1M+ away from minor league players every year. Giving some of it back by raising the minimum salary seems like the least they can do.
   29. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4706909)
Swing and a miss.


Funny - it didn't look to me like you took a swing at it at all.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4706931)
I think under these circumstances $2500 would go a very long way. He describes living on $120/week in spring training, and making $800/month his first year. Adding $400/month for six months makes a *huge* difference to those guys. They'll still live like beasts, but not homeless beasts.


If you want a bunch of early-20s guys eating right you'd better give them the food directly and watch them eat it. Give them more money and a directive to spend it on better food, and they will spend every dime on booze and women while continuing to eat PBJ certain sure.

I strongly feel that minor league players should be better compensated and that better nutrition and training should be made available to them, but let's not kid ourselves--most of them aren't going to take care of themselves no matter what you do.
   31. Zach Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4706934)
I'm sympathetic to the plight of minor leaguers, since they don't have the freedom to pack up and play for the next team down the road.

The trouble with trying to solve problems with money, though, is that the minor leagues don't generate any money (at least, not for the major league organization). A minor leaguer's economic value to the organization is as a future option to replace a major leaguer at the major league minimum for a few years, and they have to survive several washout rounds before that becomes likely. Given a finite amount of money, teams are either going to want to spend it on getting a lot of players into the system and washing them out quickly (baseball academies), dropping all of their money on a few players who are likely to survive the washout rounds (big bonuses), or on instructing players who are more likely to make it to the majors (AA and AAA much nicer than rookie and A ball).

You can call it a collective action problem (unions), only I don't know how much the players' interests are really aligned in favor of better working conditions. Most players are going to either be promoted or washed out of the low minors in just a few years. Hayhurst is an exception here, because he made it to the majors after spending an extremely long period in the minors.
   32. Zach Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4706940)
Basically, I'm not sure that "career minor league baseball player" is a profession in the sense of being paid out of the revenue that a player is currently generating. Both the player and the team are making sacrifices now in hopes of a huge return later.

   33. booond Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4706948)
Hayhurst doesn't understand the definition of brutal. I'm sure people who are living in truly brutal situations would kill for a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
   34. Jim Furtado Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4706961)
The chances of minor leaguers forming a union are nil. The only improvements will come from a push from the MLBPA willing to share a piece of their pie. I wouldn't hold my breath on that change either.
   35. God Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4706971)
This is probably a stupid question, but does Benny Agbayani actually receive that pension that was mentioned above? Since he was a strikebreaker, he was never allowed to join the MLBPA during his career. Does that mean he misses out on the MLBPA retirement benefits, or does he still get them?
   36. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4706976)
..,with a broken down body and no other skills or experience for the rest of his life.

Yeah, you're right: pro athletes never get jobs after their playing careers are over in this day and age. They might at well just jump off a bridge or something.
   37. catomi01 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4706979)
If life in minor league baseball was so tough, a lot more players would be walking away, and the independent leagues probably wouldn't exist at all. And if minor leaguers want better pay and working conditions, they should agitate for them like workers in every other industry on the planet, rather than wait until after retirement to whine like entitled brats. (Sorry, but "MLB has lots of money; those meanies should give us more!" isn't a compelling argument.)


A few things about why they don't walk away:

1. The benefit of "making it" is huge - as pointed out - with luck and some smarts, a relatively short career as a utility infielder can essentially set you up to live comfortably for life. Its worth the sacrifice of a few years for the chance at a big payout.

2. It's all they know - working in a clubhouse, these guys have known nothing but baseball their entire lives - this goes beyond job training - its literally a culture for them. Imagine you began preparing for your professional career at the age of 5. Every spare moment of your life from then until your 18 is devoted to perfected the skills needed for that career - most of your waking hours are spend with people in the same field, and your entire life has been spent aiming for that (and being told it basically your destiny). 20-30 years of that would make it tough, regardless of conditions to simply call it quits, go back to school, or go find a job.

3. Most of them think they are the exception to the rule. They all know that the vast majority of their team mates will not make it, they know that making it to the MLB is an exclusive club. But each one of them, for as long as they can remember have been the best player on every team they've been on, and everyone around them has talked about them making it for as long as they can remember. They are going to be the ones to beat the odds and make it - if they're struggling now, its only a matter of time before they break out, and get back to normal - baseball in the Atlantic League was very humbling for a lot of guys - thats where I saw that realization set in - that maybe I'm not that guy - that I am not going to make it - I'm just one more number - and then they (some, not all) decide its time for a new life - but even there it takes awhile. Clubhouses are full of "if onlys" - if only the tigers had taken me instead of the yankees - if only I hadn't gotten hurt that season - if only that scout wasn't a racist etc etc etc.
   38. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4706980)
This is probably a stupid question, but does Benny Agbayani actually receive that pension that was mentioned above? Since he was a strikebreaker, he was never allowed to join the MLBPA during his career. Does that mean he misses out on the MLBPA retirement benefits, or does he still get them?


Yes, he gets a pension. This article about Kevin Millar addresses the issue.

In the aftermath of the 1994-95 strike, the union agreed to give players like Millar all the benefits of regular members while stopping short of officially letting them in. The union withholds Millar's annual licensing money and little else. He's eligible for a pension, representation and can go through salary arbitration.
   39. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:40 PM (#4706989)
1. The benefit of "making it" is huge - as pointed out - with luck and some smarts, a relatively short career as a utility infielder can essentially set you up to live comfortably for life. Its worth the sacrifice of a few years for the chance at a big payout.

[...]

3. Most of them think they are the exception to the rule. They all know that the vast majority of their team mates will not make it, they know that making it to the MLB is an exclusive club. But each one of them, for as long as they can remember have been the best player on every team they've been on, and everyone around them has talked about them making it for as long as they can remember. They are going to be the ones to beat the odds and make it - if they're struggling now, its only a matter of time before they break out, and get back to normal - baseball in the Atlantic League was very humbling for a lot of guys - thats where I saw that realization set in - that maybe I'm not that guy - that I am not going to make it - I'm just one more number - and then they (some, not all) decide its time for a new life - but even there it takes awhile. Clubhouses are full of "if onlys" - if only the tigers had taken me instead of the yankees - if only I hadn't gotten hurt that season - if only that scout wasn't a racist etc etc etc.

There's a notion in economics called "tournament theory," which seeks to explain massive pay differentials in certain types of jobs. The initial logic is fairly straight-forward, namely a massive "prize" at the end and people trying to scale the ladder to get it. It's a nice theory, because it is wonderfully testable empirically - since inception, sports was a logical place to start. Since then, it's been applied to other sports, gangs*, executive compensation, judgeships, and a number of other places. I always like to think of individual decisions for Minor League players in that sense: the eventual possible payoff is immense, but the probability is low. Combine that with the fact that players most likely have a distorted understanding of either a) how difficult it is or b) their own talent level, it is easy to see how people get involved in this. This is similar to the explanation as presented for individuals in gangs; ex post, the possibilities and risk are observable, but individuals probably don't know the exact numbers/have a distorted idea ex ante. (note: I don't know of any studies which look at tournament theory and baseball. There was one about Taiwanese baseball from a few years back, but I can't find it right now). Regardless, there is economic theory behind the explanations you are presenting :)

*if you have never read this paper and are interested in the economics of gangs, it's a must-read
   40. Traderdave Posted: May 14, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4706995)
There's not much reason to pay them well in cash, as mentioned above young guys will probably piss it away. Look at the parking lot of a A level or rookie league team, you'll see a couple of Ferraris belong to the bonus and the rest of the team driving junkers, if anything.

There's not much reason to PAY them well, but there are many reasons to INVEST in them. Buy an apartment complex in town and staff it with a cook and a housemother/camp counselor type. Stock it with comfortable beds and maybe a hot tub out back. Contract with a local orthopedist for regular visits, get a comfortable bus that someone can actually sleep in, buy a kid a plane ticket if there's a death in his family, etc etc. They don't need money in their pockets, but it's crazy to not invest money in them. What's the value of 1 major league WAR, a few million? It's a tiny investment in future wins.
   41. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4707001)
Combine that with the fact that players most likely have a distorted understanding of either a) how difficult it is or b) their own talent level, it is easy to see how people get involved in this.


I'd have to say there's a little more to it when it comes to activities such as baseball. Most people get involved in baseball, and continue to play it, because they really enjoy doing it, and pursue it long before a professional career becomes a realistic dream. Now, it undoubtedly takes on a considerable work aspect at some point, and some aspects of it become a drag, but at it's heart it's still a damn nice way to cash a paycheck, even if that paycheck is quite meager.

My high school buddy pitched a couple of seasons in the minors before washing out, but he continued to play semipro for another dozen years (with one break for rotator cuff surgery), because he loved playing baseball. And he wasn't alone in that.

I'm sure there are an awful lot of guys in the minors who are well aware of their chances to make the big leagues, but will continue to play as long as someone will give them a chance to play. I imagine many, if not most, indy leaguers fit this bill.
   42. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4707002)
I imagine many, if not most, indy leaguers fit this bill.

This is definitely true, and a very good point.
   43. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 14, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4707031)
Does a Major Leaguer get a pension when they retire, or at age 65, or somewhere in between?
   44. catomi01 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:00 PM (#4707095)
I'm sure there are an awful lot of guys in the minors who are well aware of their chances to make the big leagues, but will continue to play as long as someone will give them a chance to play. I imagine many, if not most, indy leaguers fit this bill.


It usually depends on how long they've been there. Most 1st year guys look at as just a stumbling on their way (even the guys in their 30's on their way back down). When the All Star break and then later Sept 1 comes and goes and they're still playing on Long Island or Sugarland or the Northern League, it usually hits home. SOme give it up then...others make it their new home - and keep going - love of the game, staying in for a future coaching career, pure stubborness, or just familiarity with baseball and fear of what else is out there - a whole bunch of reasons, but yeah, by then, most have accepted the bigs probably aren't in the cards. Most if not all though, still think they're a hot streak or two from AAA (where the pay and accommodations are usually a lot better than indy leagues).

One of the most common traits I've see in players over the years is a unique combination of optimism, self-confidence, and determination - that high school sports star is still alive in most of them long after they're no longer the best athlete in the room.
   45. Select Storage Device Posted: May 15, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4707133)
if life in the minors wasn't straight out of Dickens.


That is spectacular.
   46. DL from MN Posted: May 15, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4707275)
There are also many Latino players where a baseball career is a ticket out of crushing poverty and a link to life in the United States. American dream and all that.

There are rules that force a decent paycheck for any minor leaguer on a split contract. I think the minimum is $45,000 for those folks and more for their second split contract.


First contract season: $850/month maximum. After that, open to negotiation

Alien Salary Rates: Different for aliens on visas--mandated by INS (Immigration).

Triple-A--First year: $2,150/month, after first year no less than $2,150/month

Class AA-First year: $1,500/month, after first year no less than $1,500/month

Class A (full season)--First year: $1,050/month, after first year no less than $1,050/month

Class A (short-season)--First year: $850/month, after first year no less than $850/month

Dominican & Venezuelan Summer Leagues--no lower than $300/month

Meal Money: $20 per day at all levels, while on the road


At a minimum they should be doubling meal money. Of course they qualify for food stamps with those wages so the US taxpayer is probably paying for some of their meals. $850/month for a full time job works out to $5.31 an hour. Baseball might not be "full-time" but it is close and it keeps you from having another job during the season.
   47. bookbook Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4707386)
+I need to bookmark this link for the next time I find someone bemoaning how unfair it is that their kid's 2nd grade teacher gets paid so much less than Alex Rodriguez.+

Yeah. Because A-Rod spent six months in the minors at age 18, it undercuts the argument about how underpaid 2nd grade teachers are???

The MLBPA needs to either start representing minor leaguers or help establish a MiLBPA. This isn't the worst injustice in the world, but the indifference of multi millionaires and billionaires to the working conditions of those who may follow them is beyond pathetic.
   48. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4707395)
There's not much reason to PAY them well, but there are many reasons to INVEST in them. Buy an apartment complex in town and staff it with a cook and a housemother/camp counselor type. Stock it with comfortable beds and maybe a hot tub out back. Contract with a local orthopedist for regular visits, get a comfortable bus that someone can actually sleep in, buy a kid a plane ticket if there's a death in his family, etc etc. They don't need money in their pockets, but it's crazy to not invest money in them. What's the value of 1 major league WAR, a few million? It's a tiny investment in future wins.


How hard would it be for a team to make sure that their players have a gym membership during the offseason? Heck, even a couple hundred bucks in food scrip wouldn't be a terrible thing. Pay the minor league teams to provide the guys a decent pre and post-game spread.

I found another article where Bob Stanley said he made about $500/month in '74. Just for fun, I asked my mom how much the apartment that her and I my dad rented cost back then (they were married in '74). She said it was $190. Just to put it in perspective, Stanley could have afforded a decent apartment on his own back then (but probably wouldn't). There is no way in heck single-A player could afford his own apartment 40 years later.

And as a side note, I worked for the Riverside Pilots (Mariner's A-affiliate in the Cal League) in the concession stand in '95 (I was a sr in high school/freshman in college). It was a super great job. Attendance stunk, so we were never busy. I got to watch a whole heck of a lot of baseball that summer while getting paid. A few of the guys I worked with became friendly with the players (they lived in the same area) and those dudes would get super excited when we "found" a couple of hotdogs for them. There is something wrong with the system when pro athletes are excited when minimum wage college kids sneak food to them.
   49. DL from MN Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4707430)
If you want a bunch of early-20s guys eating right you'd better give them the food directly and watch them eat it


They do have a fairly meager clubhouse spread at the ballpark even in the minors if I remember correctly. Ham sandwich bag lunches and things like that. That still comes out of their meal money or clubhouse dues.
   50. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 15, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4707543)
They do have a fairly meager clubhouse spread at the ballpark even in the minors if I remember correctly. Ham sandwich bag lunches and things like that. That still comes out of their meal money or clubhouse dues.


From time to time (we got really good at making food based on the crowd), we would give our leftovers to the team. Again, a minor league ballplayer shouldn't have to rely on overages from a snack bar for their nightly meal.
   51. AROM Posted: May 15, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4707638)
If MLB didn't have a minimum salary of 500K, the 25th man would be making only a slight bit more than the AAA salary.

Teams are paying such a small amount because the players will accept it. Players will accept it because they are chasing a dream and potential big payoff. You probably need some outside regulation to make things more equitable. Just enforcing minimum wage laws would be enough.

These players are probably working 50-60 hour weeks when you consider mandatory practices, team meetings, and travel time. Say it comes out to 200 hours per month. Just enforcing minimum wage (with overtime) would give a raise to everyone below AAA. If the local minimum wage was higher than federal, maybe the AAA guys get a raise too.

Baseball could afford to pay these guys 50K per year for full season leagues, 25K for short season leagues, if they wanted. The additional cost would be about 5 million per team, or about what a free agent middle reliever makes. That would seem right in some senses, that a guy who is among the 1000 best at his craft but not among the 750 best makes a lower middle class salary.

But I would not want to see that forced on the sport as it would backfire in jobs lost for minor leaguers. Teams would probably fold a lot of their franchises and go with 2-3 minor league affiliates per franchise.
   52. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 15, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4707664)
But I would not want to see that forced on the sport as it would backfire in jobs lost for minor leaguers. Teams would probably fold a lot of their franchises and go with 2-3 minor league affiliates per franchise.


As compared to the 5 teams they already have? They have a rookie league team, a short-A team, high-A, AA, and an AAA team. I just thinks these folks need to make sure they feed and house the kids in places that have fridges and microwaves at the very least. If the fellas take home $350 after that, it wouldn't be a tragedy.
   53. DL from MN Posted: May 15, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4707672)
If MLB didn't have a minimum salary of 500K, the 25th man would be making only a slight bit more than the AAA salary.


I think they would lose a lot of talent to Japan if that were true.
   54. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 15, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4707701)
That's a princely sum, but at age 36, he's spent about 18 of his adult years earning it. That comes out to $277,777 per year after taxes, with a broken down body and no other skills or experience for the rest of his life.

He was signed after college and played less than half a season of his age 21 year. if he didn't bother picking up any useful skills at ASU, it's not for lack of opportunity.
   55. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4708003)

He was signed after college and played less than half a season of his age 21 year. if he didn't bother picking up any useful skills at ASU, it's not for lack of opportunity.


That's true, lots of people start new careers at the age of 36 with absolutely zero previous applicable work experience. I mean, once you get a college degree employers pretty much beg and plead for you to work for them.
   56. AROM Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4708023)
It would be interesting to see what kind of careers result from professional ballplayers who play 5+ years but never reach the majors.

My guess is that most do pretty well, especially in sales occupations.
   57. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4708028)
I really wonder if there isn't some sort of internal MLB rule limiting what major league teams can spend on the minor league players. Because it seems so obvious that improving some of this stuff - nutrition, at the very least - could help players develop and give teams a competitive advantage, there's no way the smart guys running front offices haven't thought of it. I know baseball people can be slow to change, but it makes little sense that someone wouldn't have tried it if they could.
   58. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4708031)
52: most orgs have two short season teams (between SS-A, rookie, and complex ball) - a handful have three - so, six affiliates is the norm, not counting teams in the Dominican/Venezuela (one or two per org).
   59. catomi01 Posted: May 16, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4708219)
They do have a fairly meager clubhouse spread at the ballpark even in the minors if I remember correctly. Ham sandwich bag lunches and things like that. That still comes out of their meal money or clubhouse dues.


Most are a little better than that. In the AL, players got a pre-BP snack or lunch - sandwiches, fruit, tuna salad, etc. and the place was stocked with chips, granola bars and the like. After the game, they got a full hot meal. That cost them $8-$12 per day, with about 1/2 subsidized by the team. The real challenge for us was making that $8-12 per guy last - in addition to food, we had to provide post-game beer, soda, gatorade for in game, seeds and gum, coffee...along with all the toiletries - soap, shampoo, razors...and a good chunk of our own cleaning supplies - laundry detergent, floor cleaner and the like.
Best way to stretch the money was sponsorships - getting local restaurants to do the post game meal at half price or for free in exchange for tickets and advertising, having the guys come back to the place and sign some autographs and things like that.
   60. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 16, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4708225)
That's true, lots of people start new careers at the age of 36 with absolutely zero previous applicable work experience. I mean, once you get a college degree employers pretty much beg and plead for you to work for them.


If nothing else, he can always lease and old barn, throw down some turf and put up a couple of nets and become a baseball instructor, peddling his big-league knowledge to the hundreds of families who dream of junior being half as good as Willie Bloomquist (the vast majority of whom have no chance).

   61. DL from MN Posted: May 16, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4708254)
It would be interesting to see what kind of careers result from professional ballplayers who play 5+ years but never reach the majors.


If they're lucky and went to college they can teach PE
   62. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: May 16, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4708323)
The real challenge for us was making that $8-12 per guy last - in addition to food, we had to provide post-game beer, soda, gatorade for in game ... Best way to stretch the money was

drinking tap water?
   63. catomi01 Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:45 PM (#4708556)
drinking tap water?


If we didn't want to make anything extra in tips sure....the guys used to complain if we put tap water in the coolers on the bench - bottled water only.

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