Having covered minor league baseball for the last five years, Emily Waldon knows firsthand just how hard it is for players to make ends meet.
“A lot of people don’t realize when you’re in the lower levels, you’re not making anywhere close to what a lot of major league guys are making,” Waldon, a Grand Rapids resident and freelance reporter for The Athletic explains.
Just how bad is it?
“It can either be at or below the nationally recognized poverty line,” she says.
That amount is around $12,000. That’s not a lot of money, but it’s better than nothing, which unfortunately is what they’ll make soon. With the start of the season on hold, the players are only getting paid through April 8. After that, they’re on their own.
“It’s frustrating,” said Waldon. “I think when you have an employee of your organization—no matter what degree that is— you need to make sure, they are looked out for and if these guys can’t cover everyday expenses, that’s a problem," she said.
A problem that in normal circumstances, Waldon as a trained impartial journalist would simply write about and not get involved in. But as we all know, these are not normal circumstances and that’s why Waldon did not have any problems taking action.
“My thought was, I just want to try and do some good for these guys," she said.
So, Waldon got to work. She reached out to contacts. She hit up Twitter. She did anything and everything in her power to lend a hand.
“The fans really want to be involved in this. They understand the struggles that these guys face," Waldon said.
To date, with the help of baseball fans around the country, Waldon has raised over $12,000. On top of that, she’s found employment for more than 40 grateful players.
“It means the world to them. They said if we could send a thank you note to every fan, we absolutely would," she said.
But likely, the thanks will not be needed because as Waldon's discovered, whether you’re a player, fan or reporter—baseball is like a giant family.
“I think if you’re a part of it, you start to understand the struggles," Waldon said. "You walk through those together, and this was a chance for the fans to show: ‘Hey guys, we’re with you.’”
Minor league players may not have it easy, but what they do have are some of the best fans in the world.
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