Postgame meals consisting of a single slice of cheese and tomato on white bread. A reported lack of sleeping facilities due to a sold-out hotel. Two examples from a span of only a few recent days illustrate part of a pattern of hardship endured by Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players through the years.
Until this season, many of these talented, future major-leaguers made as little as $290 a week during the five-month season. A group of Babson College baseball players—starting with Patrick Manning ’23 and Timothy Noone ’23, and also including Jackson Kelly ’23, Stephen McLendon ’23, Adam Smith ’23, and Tim Person ’23—sought to take on this longstanding problem with their entrepreneurial skills.
“The fact that we were all passionate about it made it successful,” Noone said. “We love baseball; we know it’s an issue.”
Telling the Stories of the Minor Leagues
Established as part of Principles of Marketing and Information Technology, in which students were tasked with creating and scaling a digital brand project, Minor League Money strives to spread awareness about the underwhelming compensation and conditions that Minor League Baseball players often are forced to confront.
By sharing these stories through interviews, the group has brought some of these detailed experiences to light.
Manning reached out to and conversed with prominent former minor-league and major-league players, including Plácido Polanco, C.J. Wilson, and Will Middlebrooks. In addition to interviewing players, Noone worked with local sports reporters such as Steve Buckley, Pete Abraham, and Evan Drellich to help promote the project.
“In 2013, we were watching the Sox win the World Series,” Manning said. “Getting to talk to Will Middlebrooks was a really cool experience, something I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Even a future big-leaguer such as Middlebrooks, however, said he and his teammates would be “lucky” if they were able to snack on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while at the park.
“Some guys came from big college programs with catering and thought, ‘This is pro ball?’ ” Middlebrooks told Manning. “They were treated like royalty on campus, and the MiLB was a wakeup call for them.”
Finding a Solution
Noone was quick to recall how one player described to the group how he and four teammates once shared a one-bedroom apartment while playing in the minor leagues in California. “All of them had stories that shocked us,” he said.
One solution the Babson group discussed with players would be to establish a Minor League Baseball Players Association, similar to the Major League Baseball Players Association that would offer unionization and greater protection.
“They all went through this,” Manning said. “Everyone had a different experience, but there is a struggle in the minor leagues for pretty much everyone.”
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