Baseball America came out this week with one of its “Independent Audit” columns. It discusses players willing to make next to nothing, and even live in the team clubhouse if the team doesn’t provide housing or a host family for the player to stay with during the season. The article can be found here:
Obviously this does not paint independent baseball in a great light. The most obvious example of professional athletes/entertainers who live a similar lifestyle is that of independent professional wrestlers who travel from town to town, often living in their cars or sleeping on couches of friends for meager payoffs while trying to “make it” to a larger promotion. Unlike the wrestlers, independent baseball players are under a contract and cannot always “jump ship” to the next promotion which may offer a higher payday.
The article touches on the minimum wage concerns, something which may one day hurt the teams depending on the language of the contracts signed. It also touches on the non-existent wage growth since the early days of independent baseball (1993 version onward). Should anything ever arise with this situation then it will be posted on this site.
The article also touches on the huge demand for the positions and, therefore, the teams not needing to increase wages. It basically discusses the supply-demand ratio, and how it always favors the teams since so many players are (at first) willing to play for free.
Using the independent pro wrestlers comment earlier, those performers have the ability to go to YouTube and Facebook to distribute “promos” hyping a particular upcoming event. The underlying reason to this is three-fold:
- help the promoter increase awareness which may lead to an increase in ticket sales and concession sales
- with an increase in live attendance, certain wrestlers are allowed to sell their own merchandise during intermission and/or do pre-show autograph & picture-taking sessions for a fee
- increase exposure to other promoters + fans to develop a larger fan base; and this is done with the intent to make the wrestler more marketable for other promotions
Individual players for the independent leagues do not have a similar business model where they have a model to promote themselves in a way which can make them more money. Unless the specific team has a player incentive to go sell tickets around town, the player has minimal reason to learn self-promotion as a way of commanding a higher payday with his current team.
There are some possible solutions to this, including print-on-demand merchandise of the player’s likeness in the team uniform which the player can promote to friends, family, and local fans. The team then could give a revenue-split with the player. There are a few other ideas, however they seem limited. Feel free to leave your thoughts on what could work to help players put more money in their pockets, especially since most are not natural “showmen” or marketers and a lot of their time is spent on the road.
IndependentBaseball.net always wants players to have good reason to enjoy their times in the independent baseball leagues, and an increase in payout is a great way to help this happen. Most player sign on with teams for little money, but when that is taken away (due to factors beyond the players’ control) the first thing cut usually is player salaries. Anything you can offer which is doable, reasonable, and ethical is welcomed as players should (at least) receive the paltry amounts that they agreed to contractually.
There are several good books about the independent professional baseball leagues. You are welcome to see a list of suggestions through this link: Books Get notified of upcoming independent baseball tryouts from either of these services: first service or the second service. Prospective players can find some helpful resources here We will be providing a growing list of possibly helpful tips and suggestions on various baseball information. This will range from "how to" information about baseball skills all the way to helpful information for casual baseball fans. Please click the link for more information: Tips And How To Information