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Minor Leaguers’ Major Dreams

Sunshine and fly balls. It’s baseball season again and we’re going minor – to the grit and gamble of the minor leagues.

In this file photo, former Toledo Mudhens third baseman Brandon Inge (15) on deck in a Triple-A baseball game against the Indianapolis Indians in Toledo, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (AP)

In this file photo, former Toledo Mudhens third baseman Brandon Inge (15) on deck in a Triple-A baseball game against the Indianapolis Indians in Toledo, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (AP)

Do you hear the cheers, the hot dog man, the crack of the bat? A new baseball season has started. But not just at Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park or  Wrigley Field. It’s also started in Clinton, Iowa, Pensacola, Florida and Springdale, Arkansas —  where minor league ballplayers hustle for their shot at the big-time  and entertain fans in stadiums tiny enough to feel like family. Wouldn’t you like to be on the field? We’ll talk to one of those players, an announcer for some of those games, and an author of a book on life in the minors. This hour On Point: the sour and sweet of minor league baseball.


Lucas Mann, writer, journalist and baseball enthusiast. Author of “Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere.” Writing and journalism lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. (@LucasWMann)

Tommy Thrall, radio announcer for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. (@TommyThrall)

Andrew Triggs, pitcher for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

From The Reading List

NPR: Farm Team Saga ‘Class A’ Hits It Out Of The Park — “Mann hangs out in batting cages and locker rooms, drives players to bars and the local Wal-Mart after games, and occasionally sleeps on the beer-can-strewn floors of their rented apartments. He dogs them with questions about their backup plans and whether it’s all worth it — until he learns to avoid such pessimistic projections of doubt. He gets close to some of the stalwart fans, who, season after season, cheer from the third base line, and he tries to understand what drives their enthusiasm and mania to collect memorabilia.”

Slate: Minor Leagues, Microscopic Paychecks –”After all, nobody is keeping minor league exploitation a secret. It’s just that we don’t talk about it with words like exploitationpowerlesspoverty, and cartel—the kind of language that more often attaches itself to discussions about the NCAA. The baseball world prefers gritty and character and sacrifice. ”

Sports Illustrated: In lawsuit minor leaguers charge they are members of ‘working poor’ — “Three former minor leaguers now contend that these wages are unlawfully low. Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle have sued Major League Baseball, commissioner Bud Selig, the Royals, Marlins and Giants in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for violations of wage and overtime laws.”

Read An Excerpt of “Class A” by Lucas Mann

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  • skelly74

    If you live near a minor league stadium and love baseball, a minor league game is more economical to take in live action. Also, its nice to follow the top prospects.

    The Portland Seadogs in Maine are a fantastic venue. Nice stadium which is a sort of replica of Fenway park, being a minor leaguer team of the Red Sox organization.

  • David_from_Lowell

    I love baseball, but my Red Sox fandom has waned in the last decade, since games are only broadcast on pay cable and as ticket prices have gone up as availability has gone down. Thank god for the Lowell Spinners, and the Cape League (I used to live on the Cape), where you can walk over to the game after work, get affordable tickets at the gate, and enjoy a summer evening with friends or family. That’s the real spirit of baseball, and it’s hard to get at Fenway these days. I wish there were a movement to start up amateur adult baseball leagues.

  • Steve from Medina

    I live in Northeastern Ohio. I am within a 2 hour drive of he Cleveland Indians’ triple A, double A, & single A farm teams. This great because we can follow players as they develop. One of my fiends saw a pitcher pitching in Akron who later that year we saw (on TV) pitching in the World Series.

    While we go to at least on major league game each year, we also try to go to at least on minor league each. The minor league game is a fun experience. It cost less, but it is a more intimate and fun environment and it is great place to bring young kids to teach them the game.

  • TyroneJ

    The best thing about baseball’s minor leagues is that it undermines colleges ability to exploit college baseball athletes they way they do with college football & basketball athletes. A college age baseball player has the option to turn minor league pro, while a college age football & basketball player really has no viable options except to continue to put life & limb at risk for peanuts while the college reaps huge financial rewards. If the pro-football & basketball organizations would run minor league programs similar to MLB, colleges would have less ability to use their student athletes as money generating cannon fodder.

  • Joe Z

    I spent over a year in Clinton Iowa as an IT consultant at Neilson Clearing House located in Clinton. I went to many games there. The team was the Clinton Giants. I never saw anything resembling what your guest speaks of. But, then again, it was 20 years ago. Perhaps things change. Gorgeous park on the Mississippi river. Middle America baseball personified.

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