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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.

Guests

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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