NEW YORK – Minor league players from the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies development systems wore teal armbands Saturday to protest underpayment they say is insufficient.
At least 10 players from the Brooklyn Cyclones and Jersey Shore BlueClaws wore the bracelets, which feature the hashtag #FairBall, during their Class A Alta game in New York. The rally was organized in part by Advocates for Minor Leaguers, who also handed out the bracelets to fans and distributed brochures detailing the financial problems players face.
“Minor league baseball players have been heavily underpaid and silenced for decades,” players from both teams told The Associated Press in a joint statement issued by Advocates for Minor Leaguers. “Today, we wear #FairBall bracelets to show our solidarity with every fan and ally who is working to change that. We love the game of baseball, but it needs to evolve. It’s time for every minor league player to earn a living on a living wage. “.
Class A High players earn a minimum of $ 500 per week and are only paid during the minor league season of approximately six months. While some players earn signing bonuses worth hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars when entering professional baseball, many sign for as little as $ 1,000.
The financial burden has led players to sleep on couches, air mattresses or floors in cramped apartments, play with tattered equipment, and seek charity from the luckiest fans and teammates.
“Players who wore wristbands in Brooklyn today will earn less than $ 12,000 this year,” Advocates for Minor Leaguers said in a statement to the AP. “The MLB teams they play for are worth more than $ 2 billion. There is absolutely no excuse for this. We are proud of these players for standing up for themselves and others. Their message must be heard loud and clear throughout the industry. : Time to pay minor league players a living wage. “
Minor league advocates planned to hand out wristbands and flyers at several other stadiums across the country on Saturday, though the players’ protest in Brooklyn was expected to be the only demonstration on the field. The brochures suggest that MLB teams extend pay to players during the offseason and provide them with lodging and three meals a day during the season.
While Major League Baseball players earn a minimum of $ 570,500, players with minor league contracts are not part of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Before this season, players in the lower levels of the minors made just $ 4,800 per year. Garrett Broshuis, co-founder of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, has said that he would like minor league players to eventually form their own union.
Major League Baseball increased minor league salaries in 2021, and full-season minor league players earned between $ 12,000 and $ 16,800 per season. The federal poverty line is $ 12,880 for individuals.
The increase came amid a reorganization of the player development pipeline that included cutting under-affiliates from 160 to 120 teams.
“We are seven months into a significant change that aims to address long-standing issues that have impacted minor league players,” MLB said in a statement to the AP. “Improving working conditions and pay for minor league players is one of the main goals of modernizing our player development system.
“Player salaries and working conditions are unequivocally better than the previous structure. While more work remains, huge strides have been made by increasing salaries from 38% to 72% by 2021, improving facilities, providing more improved clubhouse amenities and conditions and reduced seasonal travel with better geographic alignment. “