To put things in a perspective that we all understand, it is necessary to look at the daily schedule of a minor league player. From May to August, where games are scheduled nearly every day, players arrive around 3 pm for a 7:15 pm game. During the time before games young players stretch, work on fundamentals, taking batting practice, run, throw bullpen sessions, and spend time in the trainer’s room.
The typical game takes about three hours to complete. Following the game players often need further work in the trainer’s room, lift weights, shower and generally get ready to go back to their residence as tired young men.
Players are at work for a minimum of eight hours, often longer, for about twenty eight days a month. In some states, a minor league player is being paid at a level below the minimum wage. Those hours do not include long and late trips on a bus traveling from city to city or town to town. For a player making the Double-A minimum of $1,700 a month, he’ll earn around $7.00 an hour while on the job.
Minor league players get a daily food allowance of $20-25, depending on the source you read. Hard working young men are trying to gain proper nourishment on $25 a day. How well can most people do that, much less minor league players giving it all they can to try to earn a starting spot on the team at a given level or striving to advance to a higher level.
The life of a minor league baseball player revolves around practice, games, meals, sleep and travel. A large portion of their meager income is used for living accommodations which are not provided by the team. For most, a car is out of the question. One wonders how and why so many young men continue to live a life that excludes all the glamour we, as fans, see from the outside.
They continue on against all obstacles in a profession that includes the most difficult task in all of sports. That is, hitting a small round ball coming to the plate at 80/90 mph and doing so with a round bat.
The pitchers are likewise trying desperately to miss those bats or at the least the fat part of the bat. Those young players who toil for years in the minors simply refuse to give up on their dreams no matter how difficult the path becomes or how slim the chances of getting to the big leagues may be.
For minor league players their best opportunity at financial security comes with signing bonuses which are often quite large for high draft picks. Those that make it to the 40 man rosters on major league baseball teams can receive a reasonable salary, but not many 40 man roster spots are available for roughly 5500 minor league players. The vast majority does not have big signing bonuses and do not make it onto 40 man rosters.
Minor league free agents may also earn a livable wage by negotiating their contracts. But, it takes seven years of minor league play to become a free agent. The majority of minor league players, especially at the lower levels, live at a subsistent level having received a small signing bonus and with an unbelievably small income. Many do not make it to free agency as they are released, have their careers derailed by injury or simply have to forgo their dream knowing it will never be realized.