Back in 2019, I wrote a blog post about how I was of the opinion that Minor League Baseball players deserved much better salaries and quality of life. I recall describing how very little the people are paid. In addition, recently, I have seen minor league baseball players speak out about the ugly truth about their day to day lives in their road to the major leagues, from low paychecks to mediocre meals.
There has been a big change as of late. Recently, it has been announced that some Minor League Baseball players will have their housing covered. I am beyond happy to hear about this. These humans deserve to have financial burdens lessened substantially, at least from my perspective. If I were in the shoes of one of these athletes, figuring out paying for housing, food, and other living expenses while getting a not-very-substantial paycheck would be brutal on my mental and financial health.
This is only the beginning, though. I really hope that this leads to more pay for Minor League Baseball players. There has been a petition with Congress in the past to exempt these athletes from the minimum wage law. They did get a raise; however, they still make less money than their counterparts in other sports. This is bothersome in my opinion. Minor Leaguers should be able to afford more than just bologna sandwiches. If they want to be able to enjoy a meal of bacon and eggs from time to time, they deserve to have an income that allows them to afford those foods. If they want to have black bean tacos for lunch every once in a while, they deserve to have an income that lets them have that. If they want to treat themselves to Whataburger or Shake Shack on special occasions, they deserve to have an income that lets them treat themselves sometimes.
A major argument that I see is that if these players are unhappy with their quality of life in the minors, then they need to just play better. To be honest, I can see that argument in one sense. In jobs such as working for a food delivery service or working for a nationally recognized engineering firm, hard work and dedication can result in bonuses, raises, or promotions. I’ve heard of instances where fast food restaurant employees go from drive-thru/cashier positions to shift leads. There are instances where people get promoted from, say, sales consultant to sales quality assurance agent.
However, just playing better won’t cut it for many players. In 2015, there was research done that only ten percent of minor leaguers are ever promoted to the major leagues. That leaves ninety percent of minor leaguers stuck there until they are cut or they call it quits themselves. In addition, per some 2019 research, only two out of every nine minor leaguers (which is 22.22 percent, per my calculations) would have had a chance of making it big. Story in short, the odds are stacked against many minor leaguers, despite them playing to the best of their ability. I truly believe that even if there are athletes who are stuck in the minors for literally the entirety of their post-high school or post-higher education baseball careers, they deserve a living wage.
We will be taking a look at the minor league life of Ben Verlander, who is the younger brother of beloved Major League Baseball star Justin Verlander. After getting drafted out of Virginia’s Old Dominion University, Ben signed with Detroit, and traveled down to Florida. He mentions that the housing situation was mediocre at best, with filth and mold all over the place. I wish I could imagine how Ben had felt in the moment. Like Ben, I had always envisioned that minor leaguers had glamorous lives, until I started looking into it more and realized the ugly truth about the actual livelihoods of these people.
Remember, earlier I mentioned that minor leaguers don’t usually get the best of meals. That’s another ugly truth of Ben’s experience. He mentioned playing on teams where the meal situation ranged from getting little to no postgame food to getting decent meals after games. I’m going to be very honest: as an eating disorder survivor, this is very nerve wracking. If players have had body image or self-esteem issues in the past, this can trigger their negative past experiences.
I mentioned in the 2019 post that some minor league baseball players live with the family members of their agents. Ben mentioning living with host families, and he was grateful for that. There is a point, however, where host families are no longer an option, per Ben’s post. I’ve heard of more than one instance were minor league baseball players have to live somewhere with five or six roommates because of the little money that they make. I can relate to that during my apartment hunting experience, as my roommate and I were considering living together in a one-bedroom apartment because of how ridiculous the cost of rent was in the area where we live.
I am very happy that the cost of housing will be one less thing for players to worry about. I am also happy for Ben Verlander for speaking up about the ugly truth of what life if like to be a minor leaguer. I hope that decent wages for minor leaguers come soon, too. This is just my opinion, but being in the minor leagues forever should not mean being forced to pinch pennies.
What are your thoughts on housing being covered for athletes making their way to the majors? Let me know in the comments below.