Phillies Minor Leaguers Allegedly Disciplined for Speaking Out on Living Conditions

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 22, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 02: A detail view of the tarp covering the pitchers mound with Philadelphia Phillies logo prior to the game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on September 2, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 3-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Some players for the Jersey Shore BlueClaws—the Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies—have said they were disciplined by the organization for protesting against unfair wages and living conditions.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Advocates for Minor Leaguers Executive Director Harry Marino said the following regarding the allegations:

"We heard there was some backlash, some troubling reports, and we are definitely looking into it. We're very concerned. It's totally inappropriate to have any kind of backlash.

"There has been a response from the team side trying to suppress that speech, telling them they should be careful, not to talk like that, and think twice. Teams should be very careful trying to dissuade speaking out. The Phillies should know they’re being watched."

Nightengale noted that "10 to 25" players for the BlueClaws and the New York Mets' Single-A affiliate—the Brooklyn Cyclones—wore teal wristbands with the phrase "#FairBall" written on them last weekend during their season finales.

Advocates for Minor Leaguers reported no discipline from the Mets to their minor league players for demonstrating by wearing the wrist bands.

Meanwhile, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski denied that the Phillies reprimanded any of their minor leaguers:

"To my knowledge, no player got in trouble for this. Our staff met with the players the next day since it was the last day of the season, and an end-of-the-year meeting was planned.

"The wrist band topic came up, but it was for knowledge sakes. No player got in trouble or was scolded for wearing them."

The Advocates for Minor Leaguers website states that minor league players have no union and only receive seasonal salaries despite being contracted year-round. Additionally, most minor league players earn less than $15,000 annually.

According to Nightengale, Advocates for Minor Leaguers are pushing for increased salary since the national poverty level is $12,880 per year, which equates to about $250 per week.

Major League Baseball has resisted an increase, noting that it raised the minimum minor league salaries at each level this past year.

Currently, the minimum salaries are $700 per week at Triple A, $600 per week at Double A and $500 per week at A. The previous minimum for Class A players was $290.

MLB has denied any punishments have been handed out to minor league players for speaking out and added in a statement that "improving the working conditions and pay for minor leaguers is among the chief goals" of Major League Baseball on the heels of its minor league reconstruction.