If you want to be a baseball player, you’ll have to work for free

Associated Press file

There are just 19 days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, but Major League Baseball is already in mid-season form when it comes to trying to stiff players who aren’t stars and are trying to make ends meet while pursuing a dream.

In Arizona, where 15 teams have spring training facilities, Major League Baseball is lobbying Arizona lawmakers to exempt baseball players from the state’s minimum wage law.

Eleven dollars an hour is too rich for baseball’s blood, but, then again, just about any amount is.

At the federal level, MLB successfully got an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act so that it won’t have to pony up $7.25 an hour to the minor league ballplayers. That wage hasn’t been raised since 2009.

With states raising minimum wage laws, baseball is going after them now.

“I think that most baseball fans don’t realize that minor league baseball players are not paid at all when they go to spring training,” attorney Garrett Broshuis, a former minor league ballplayer, tells the Arizona Capitol Times. “Each year there are thousands of minor leaguers that report to spring training, and they have to perform a month of work, seven days a week, with no pay at all.”

Broshuis has a federal lawsuit challenging the fact that baseball contracts only pay during the regular season. While it’s on appeal, an Arizona legislator is attempting to undercut the suit with a bill extending the federal exemption to the state level.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a higher minimum wage and the lawmaker — T.J. Shope — acknowledges his legislation may run afoul of the voters’ intent, the Capitol Times says. But he says ballplayers are just “trying out” in spring training and aren’t on the team.

With Social Security, the old retired folks in the stands make more money watching the game than the players do playing it.

“It really is just unfortunate,” Broshuis counters, “because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Archive: Baseball is America, mom, apple pie and working below minimum wage (NewsCut)

(h/t: Paul Tosto)