American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier examines the new minimum wage law and the fact that it will have little to no effect on independent baseball at all, making the concerns much ado about nothing.
The Minimum Wage Will Have No Effect
It doesn’t seem like very long ago when fans of independent baseball were crying that the sky was falling. The new minimum wage law imposed as part of the Congressional Budget bill made it law that minor league teams had to pay players in the minors minimum wage, or $1,160 per month according to federal minimum wage standards for a 40 hour work week.
This seemed to be the death kneel for independent baseball. In all leagues outside of the Atlantic League, teams pay some players, if not the vast majority of those on their roster, far below that standard; some even less than half that standard.
While some independent leagues may have been able to withstand that pay scale, it seemed that the vast majority of them were doomed. Realistically, there seemed little possibility that leagues like the Frontier and Pecos leagues could pay that kind of money for each player, dooming the leagues to oblivion. Those concerns truly proved to be much ado about nothing.
The Evidence Points to the Contrary
While this clearly seemed like a big deal that would doom independent baseball, one need look no further than at one group of people – owners – to see if there is any reason to be concerned.
If you have taken notice, there has not been a single owner in any independent league who has expressed any concern about being able to operate. No leagues have announced plans to raise player salaries, nor have they informed that public that they will be closing down their team or the league as a whole because of their inability to meet the directive of the new law.
In fact, leagues are expanding. The American Association will add a new team in Milwaukee in 2019 and there is a new independent league in the works – The Southwest League of Professional Baseball. They are opening in 2019 and, this week, announced that their third team was joining the league – the Joplin Miners. Instead of stressing about how to meet the new mandate, owners are operating as business as usual.
It should also be noted that at the most recent American Association owners meeting, which took place about a month ago, the subject was not even brought up. This occurred after the bill had been signed into law, and the league did not broach the subject at all.
Clearly, the sky is not falling. Independent ball is not doomed to fail or to fold or to have any other disaster occur. It is clear that the owners in all leagues have no concerns about being in violation of the law, so all we can say about the future of independent baseball is “Play Ball!”
American Association Daily Notes
The Cleburne Railroaders signed RHP Chris Nowlin. Nowlin has had an interesting professional career, making his debut in 2007 with the Lincoln Saltdogs in 2007, then missing a year, playing two seasons of independent ball (2009-2010), taking three years off, and finally paying his last season in Pittsburg (Pacific Coast Association) in 2014.
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By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA