“the most affordable and least exploitative one”

MLB players, compared to athletes in the other major sports, are also a fairly contented bunch. The 1994 strike, which wiped out the World Series that year, is all but forgotten. The collective bargaining agreement the powerful players union signed last fall runs until 2016 and raises the minimum salary to $500,000 per year. Neither pro-basketball nor pro-football owners write checks so large to first-year players. The new baseball contract also instituted a strict drug-testing program, which the players accepted in order to avoid any repetition of the steroids scandal that badly tarnished their image.

Unlike their counterparts in football and basketball, the baseball authorities actually pay a salary to most of the young men they think have a serious chance of making an MLB roster. Even the best college baseball players usually serve an apprenticeship in the minor leagues before they are ready for the big time. Of course, no one gets rich toiling in the minors: first-year players receive a minimum of $850 a month in the lowest or rookie league and $2150 a month in AAA, the highest. Yet few perform before large crowds or have their names inscribed on t-shirts or hoodies. Compare their lot with that of the famous “student athletes” in basketball and football who make millions in profits for big-name universities like Ohio State, Alabama, and Kentucky, yet are prohibited by NCAA rules from receiving so much as a free plane ticket back home.

Read More | “The Beauty of Baseball” | Michael Kazin | ?Dissent