Jersey Shore BlueClaws Players Among Minor League Pay Protest
#FairBall is trending after several minor league players from the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, a Philadelphia Phillies minor league affiliate, and the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets minor league affiliate wore wristbands to protest sub-poverty level pay. Here's what we know.
My family and I love baseball and have enjoyed minor league games in multiple states, including our hometown team - the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. We've always had a great time, but have never really thought about the salaries of the players. Before I heard about this protest, I would have assumed that working for a major league team, even as a minor league, would mean a big signing bonus and salary. I now know, that's not true. And the numbers might surprise you.
Saturday night's minor league game in Brooklyn, New York stood out not for a Cyclones victory over the BlueClaws or because fans got a Pete Alonso souvenir, but instead of what was some of the players were wearing that got people talking. The wristbands above cost $10, were created by Advocates For Minor Leaguers and were worn by some players on both teams to raise awareness for a cause important to them and thousands of other professional athletes.
Why are they wearing them in protest? Simply put, poverty pay. According to The Athletic, professional baseball players in the minor leagues are paid only $10,000 to $15,000 per year. $13,000 is the United States poverty line. While the players that wore the wristbands yesterday averaged $12,000; the teams they play for (Mets and Phillies) are worth over $2 billion.
Just how bad is it? More Perfect Union paints a dire picture. "MLB owners are worth billions of dollars, but minor league baseball players make just $7/hour, many sleep on the floor in crowded apartments, and they're denied adequate meals. The horrific treatment has lead to substance abuse & severe depression for some minor leaguers." CBS Philly adds "The financial burden has prompted players to sleep on sofas, air mattresses or floors in overcrowded apartments, play with tattered equipment, and seek charity from fans and more fortunate teammates."
How does this salary compare to other minor leagues? It's about 1/2 to 1/3 that of the NBA's G League or NHL's AHL. I know the local affiliates, like the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, don't determine minor league player pay. I hope the major league teams, like the Phillies and Mets, can step up to pay their players better. They're certainly giving us family fun and their skills are highly valuable.