Finally got out to see Amarillo’s Sod Poodles, our new AA minor league baseball team. We lost, but the team has some big bats (sadly, all the home runs came with no base runners). And they have a kid from Mexico who consistently throws 100 mph fast balls (his control needs some consistency, too).
I did a little research. Did you know the average minor leaguer makes less than $7,500* a year (that’s below minimum wage and the annual poverty level)? About 50% of players get a signing bonus, which I’m sure doesn’t last long at their ages, and only 10% end up playing major league ball.
So why do they do it? I’ll return to that, but first this:
I have a long-standing affinity for minor leaguers. In 1961, most of my Little League pals got moved to the majors while I remained a Minor League Redleg for another season. Yep, disappointed, mostly because I didn’t get to play under the lights and didn’t get to wear the cool, cotton uniforms the real Redlegs** donned when we watched them on TV.
In our town, minor leaguers wore white T shirts adorned with the iron-on letters of our team. Our pants were regular blue jeans. There was an upside. I went from being back-up second base to regular catcher and sometimes relief pitcher.
Writing this, it occurred to me that I’ve spent most of my life in the minors. I’ve had good careers, but mine wasn’t a well known church or a big summer camp. I taught at a community college. I’m not retiring at Sun City.
So why do they do it—the Soddies that is?
A cynical answer says they’re naive. They just don’t know the odds are stacked against them. A more romantic response says they’re dreamers and, at any level, they enjoy the game.
Anyway, I’m going with that—for the Soddies—and for me.
*AA players, like the Soddies get more, about $6,000 per month, but that’s only for the season.
**For the record, the Cincinnati team went from being called the Red Stockings, to Redlegs to just Reds, today.