Baseball writers and baseball players (and the one we will focus on, Slade Heathcott) are up in arms over the Save America’s Pastime Act. In legal terms, the Save America’s Pastime Act would adjust the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to Minor League Baseball Players. In this change, minor league baseball players would be treated like seasonal employees in term of payment. This would subject them to wages below the livable wages, but for 40 hour work weeks. The 40 hours is a requirement, even if that time does not involve baseball activities.
There are numerous opinions and analysis of the law. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America noted that the bill’s costs could effectively kill the Independent Leagues. Independent teams do not have quite the budgets of Major League Baseball-affiliated minors teams. Players with the independent leagues would actually cost more than they would before the bill, an unexpected result of the bill. Cooper is confident that most Independent Leagues, where the salary caps are $75,000 a year or in the low six-figures, would have to fold because of insane costs rising.
However, one baseball player, a former New York Yankee, has taken it upon himself to have an intriguing discussion on Twitter about the costs of the bill. Slade Heathcott, the former prospect outfielder famous for taking Brad Boxberger deep for a big home run in 2015, has major issue with the bill. Formerly a member of the Oakland Athletics organization, Heathcott took to Twitter to protest the $4.63 per hour for minor league pay for three to six months during a calendar year. No one can really blame him. He has only been in the majors in one season, the 2015 season. Since then he has jumped from the White Sox to the Giants to the Athletics.
Heathcott makes it perfectly clear what affects this would have on life. Many players have families that they have to support, as well as paying rent, utilities, taxes, and so forth. Heathcott has a wife, Jessica and a son Kysen. Not all the problems exist just at home. Heathcott explains further what it costs to be a minor league player.
I know while you have minor leaguers making between 6-11k a year. Also having to pay rent and cost of living while at affiliates, training costs to hit and workout, and equipment for most guys while also just getting 20 dollars a day to eat out two meals while being on the roa
— Slade Heathcott (@heathcott_slade) March 22, 2018
For those who do not know, “clubbies” that he references are the clubhouse attendants at each part. These are the guys who do the laundry, set up lockers, and ensure a clean clubhouse for a visiting team. They will get paid by the players for their insane effort to ensure a clean clubhouse for all the players and coaches. When you are making $6,000-$11,000 a year, the numbers are absurd. Add rent, utilities, clubbies costs, the $20 stipend per day for eating on road trips, the costs to raise a family, there is no way one can spend that kind of money on such a low wage.
From a personal perspective, Heathcott’s argument makes perfect sense. For the last two years, this writer made $7,800 a year, with a tuition stipend. All the other bills were on this writer. While the cost of living in rural Illinois was much less, there is no way $7,800 a year supports anyone. The equivalent of my wage was $2.00 or so an hour, working twenty hours a week. Who does that support? No one, except for criminals in prison, can support themselves on that. Who can expect MiLB players, who have to move constantly each year, support such a move? This writer lived by himself, with no one else to support.
Heathcott has fought with a bunch of people who think all baseball players are spoiled people who have Maseratis and Ferraris. Somehow, MLB owners have kind of brainwashed some of us fanbase into thinking paying players less money is the way to go. This writer gives credit to Heathcott for his ability to fight them off with consistent arguments. There is no way that most people can handle insults for trying to make a living.
Heathcott’s work is giving a real life perspective to the damage of the Save America’s Pastime Act. It is one that should be echoed around baseball. Heathcott has opened the door at his own risk to scrutiny about his own opinions. Life is not easy for minor league baseball players. Heathcott has become a hero for them all.