Blog

I’ve Lived My Dream

June 6th, 2018

By Jeremy Wolf

Dear Reader,

I get to live my dream every day and night. I get to work for a company whose symbol hung on my wall since I was a kid. I give my heart, soul, and body to this job and have sat quietly as my colleagues, my brothers in arms, have sat quietly on the sidelines for far too long.

It hurts to know that my work isn’t enough to allow me to live, and it’s a testament to the complications of the system that I’m berated, laughed at, and disallowed from earning what’s due to me.

A seat at the table, a fair shake.

The system itself is a flawed, but it’s the American way. I work 70 hours a week and play in front of thousands of screaming fans a night, and I’ll go to bed hungry. I have to purchase my own equipment and sleep on an air mattress. This is minor league baseball.

I’m a “seasonal apprentice”, an “intern”, a “lucky son of a bitch”. I know. Trust me, I know.

People would give their first born child for the opportunity to do what I do, and they call me selfish for asking for what’s due to me, they call me selfish for my attitude, and they call me ungrateful for playing for money and “not for pride.”

My pride was taken from me when I signed those papers. My rights and my freedoms as an employee, as a worker, as a man, gone.

“Go put on this jersey, do what we say, eat your crumbs, and when something happens to you we’ll find someone else.”

So while I’m here, I’m gonna fight.

Minor league baseball players work in a system that is fraught with corruption; billionaire team owners collectively suppress wages of their lowest employees, won’t let them build a union, and won’t let them talk with team officials about their treatment. Whereas, Minor league owners profit off of free labor, use public money to build gaudy stadiums, and neglect to spend the money on the well being of the players, the entertainment.

I have played a game for a living ever since I was five years old. It was never a hobby, it was a job. And now I get to practice next to those who I watched growing up. But is this really it? Is this living the dream?

Sincerely,

The Indentured

I wrote that piece during my career, a sixteen-month stint with the New York Mets. I wasn’t lucky to be there, I earned it. I worked my ass off to get to that point in my career and wouldn’t change a second of it. But, I was treated like property. Speaking up now has taught me a lot about this country: I should be grateful for the opportunity and keep my mouth shut about the quality of life they present to me.

My 2017 season lasted seven months, March through September. March was unpaid. April – unpaid. May – unpaid. Sixteen days in June – unpaid. For 8-10 hours a day, six days a week, for sixteen weeks, I made $0. For my short season (72 games), I was paid $45 per game, or $3 an hour for 70 hours a week. I was guaranteed two meals in my contract and rarely got food to eat. I had to purchase my own equipment (bats, cleats, batting gloves, first base mitt, etc.), rent, travel, and $80 a month for a group of rich high schoolers to clean my jersey. I played in front of 8,000 people a night and went to bed hungry. I made less money that summer than the batboy and after seven months of work, I left with less money than I started, and $2000 in credit card debt.

I was ultimately released after that season due to a back injury. I couldn’t even walk as I received that phone call.

For those who get drafted this week… enjoy it. Love it. Cherish it. But don’t forget your brothers. Look to your left and right and see if they have as much as you, not if you have as much as them.

I’m now able to fight for my teammates rights as employees, as human beings. Minor League baseball players deserve a seat at the table. I guess the million dollar question is, will they?

Jeremy Wolf is the Director of More Than Baseball. To learn more, visit their website at MoreThanBaseball.org or Instagram @mtb_org.

To connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn, click here. To connect with him on Instagram, his handle is @_jeremywolf. 

 

2 Responses to “I’ve Lived My Dream”

  1. Daniel S says:

    Hi Jeremy, my name is Daniel I am a friend of your Grandparents here in NY, I am a sport fan not much baseball but often checked the lineup for the Mets to see if you where playing, I wish you much success bringing the light to such an important topic and the back end of the abusive business and it is not exclusive to baseball.

    Good luck and will be looking out for your future articles.

    Best,

    Daniel

Leave a Comment

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA: