Few people that know me, know that I love going to baseball games – provided they are played in an outdoor stadium in pleasant weather.
But major league baseball lost its appeal some years ago, and now I limit my attendance to minor league games, the A, AA, and AAA affiliates of the ‘bigs,” and even more than that, I enjoy going to minor league professional games that are made up of independent teams – those leagues not affiliated with an majors.
For one reason, and one reason only. These guys, mostly “kids,” play almost solely for “the love of the game.” An infinitesimal amount of them ever get noticed by the majors, and most get paid about $600 a month. The particular league I am following the salary cap FOR THE ENTIRE TEAM is $75,000 a year. Wow.
There are guys in the majors that make that, and more, per GAME.
Also in this league, the players can be no older than 26, 1/3 of the roster is permitted to have 2 or more years of experience, 1/3 of the roster can have 1 year experience, and 1/3 of the roster has to be rookies. Most players come from the ranks of undrafted college players, or guys that did get a major league call and didn’t last a season.
In other words, these guys are playing their hearts out, not for money, not for fame, but for love of the game. None that I have observed have ever been too busy to high five a kid in the stands, or autograph a ball or program.
The team owners, on the other hand, are there to make a profit, and try every conceivable method to bring in money, whether it’s the advertising on the outfield walls, video monitor, sponsorships on uniforms, renting out the stadium for other events. I’m pretty sure no one is getting rich owning these teams, whereas in the leagues affiliated with the majors, you’ll find very profitable enterprises, as the affiliated major league team pays most of the operating expenses of the minor league affiliates – travel, salaries, equipment and so on.
Since I generally write about food, I will here as well, and at most parks, you’ll find food and beverage prices to rival the majors, but with a more limited selection. Whereas the majors, the past few years, are all about dazzling culinary choices, at these small independent teams, you’ll find dogs, burgers, beer, peanuts, popcorn and the like.
At the ballpark I just attended, the burgers were from Glenmark, a Chicago manufacturer of IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) burger patties, so they weren’t very satisfactory. Add a couple of bucks to the price and you can have a ‘deluxe’ with fresh cut vegetables, which probably would have amped up the whole experience. I didn’t. The condiment table was kind of lacking, as well, and the mustard pump, didn’t.
Beer was around $7, a bottle of water $3.75.
It was “fake Jimmy Buffet” nite, so they had his music playing throughout the game and margaritas on sale.
Parking was free, and the most expensive game ticket (a couple rows up, first base line, was $10. The last time I priced a major league game, tickets were from $40 – $250. How do you take your young son at those prices?
But with the minors, you can go weekly, or more, if you’re so inclined.
Because you’re going “for the love of the game.”
The home team lost last night, but the real action came at the top of the 2nd, when the visitor’s coach had a fit and got ejected. That was exciting.
Minor League Baseball
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