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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

‘Adopt a Minor Leaguer’ Program Gives Players a Lifeline as MLB Shuts Down

When Michael Rivers started the “Adopt a Minor Leaguer” program in February, he only planned to assist with food and cash over long seasons of low pay. Now, a month later, his work looks different—providing a lifeline to players who were sent home from camp amid a global pandemic, with no idea when they’ll receive their next paycheck, and no sense of when they’ll be allowed to return.

As the novel coronavirus outbreak has shut down baseball, MiLB players have been thrust into a difficult situation. They already face frustratingly low pay during the season and no pay at all during spring training. But now they’ve been ordered home—difficult in itself, for foreign players who worry about potential future travel restrictions—where they must remain in playing shape and figure out a way to pay their bills. With no idea of when they will be called back to camp, they can’t easily seek immediate work at home, and they can’t file for unemployment benefits while still under contract with their clubs. Teams have not stepped in to pay. So fans have answered with the ultimate modern solution: They’re crowdfunding. And, in a particularly unflattering statement on the quality of life in the minors, the crowdfunded efforts to pay players in a pandemic aren’t new. They’re the ones that already existed to pay players under previous conditions.

Rivers, 39, lives in Eagan, Minn., with his wife and two children. Before Adopt a Minor Leaguer, he had no previous involvement with baseball beyond his fandom (Twins), but after a painful winter, he was in search of anything to make him feel better. His father was diagnosed with lung cancer in November and learned that it had spread in January. In the days that followed, Rivers wanted to find a distraction. So he landed on Twitter, where he saw former Twins farmhand Todd van Steensel, now in indy ball, posting about the difficulties of his seven years in the minors.

“I started to see more about the truth about what minor leaguers don’t get paid, that they don’t get paid for spring training, and they get paid very little during the season,” says Rivers. “And at that point, I was like—giving always makes you feel better.”

 

QLE Posted: March 18, 2020 at 12:54 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: charity, coronavirus, minor leaguers

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