A lawsuit against Major League Baseball has been granted limited class action status, with at trial date expected to come within the next several weeks.
Despite being a $10 billion industry, some minor-league ballers are pushing for a day in court. Players say they’re undercompensated by MLB for what’s essentially a full-time job, earning less than employees at McDonald’s for being among the best in their field.
National Public Radio recently featured an interview with several key industry figures as well as an unidentified player.
Program host and attorney Garrett Broshuis revealed a surprise piece of data – that the average Minor League Baseball player earns, on average, about $7,500 per year. That’s across all levels of the game, too, from ‘Single A’ to ‘Triple A,’ one step below the major league.
Broshuis, who used to pitch in the Minor League, is suing MLB as well as its 30 teams. He said his goal is, at the very least, to ensure players receive at least minimum wage.
USA Today ran a similar feature in 2016, covering the struggles of Kyle Johnson, a 27-year old economics graduate trying to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball in the Major League.
Johnson explained how the Minor League made supporting a family and marriage incredibly hard to bear. He was earning $12,000 per year – an amount which didn’t cover the annual ‘spring training’ period, which is both rigorous and time-consuming. Johnson, along with many of his colleagues nationwide, must drive clear across the country to participate.
Since spring training isn’t technically part of the competitive season, Johnson doesn’t receive a wage. Instead, he gets two meals per day as well as a small stipend – not enough to cover living expenses, Johnson says.
“It’s really difficult,” he explains. “There’s a lot of other things I could be doing to provide for my family, and allow us to be more stable – we could buy a house. So that weighs on me, especially right now, when I’m getting ready to take off again. Am I doing the right thing for my family?”
On NPR’s segment, aired May 2nd, Tom Goldman explains how Major League Baseball gets away with paying their Minor League cohorts less than a living wage.
“The majority of these players, says MLB, are short-term, seasonal apprentices,” says Goldman. “But minor leaguers typically sign a standard seven-year contract, and they work 50 to 60 hours a week at spring training and work during the off season on baseball skills and fitness, all for no pay.”
Some players, like Johnson, say they aren’t angry about being forced away from home so much as they are offended by the abysmally low salaries – salaries which have hardly moved in decades, but are increasingly overshadowed by Major League incomes which have been struck up into the stratosphere.