Baseball Fans Stepping Up With “Adopt a Minor Leaguer” Effort

More than 400 fans are helping underpaid minor leaguers who are struggling financially during the pandemic

An American flag waving alongside a Minor League Baseball flag
The American flag with the Nevada state flag and a Minor League Baseball flag.
Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

More than 400 baseball fans have stepped up to the plate to help underpaid minor leaguers who are struggling financially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Created by Minnesota Twins fan Michael Rivers, the Adopt a Minor Leaguer program pairs players in baseball’s developmental levels who need a helping hand with fans who are willing to give one.

Rivers, a server at a Perkins in Minnesota, came up with the initiative after reaching out to Twins prospect Todd Van Steensel and asking if he could use a little money after finding out minor leaguers aren’t paid during spring training.

“I started to see more about the truth about what minor leaguers don’t get paid, that they don’t get paid for spring training, and they get paid very little during the season,” Rivers told Sports Illustrated. “And at that point, I was like—giving always makes you feel better.”

With the baseball season now suspended indefinitely, minor leaguers are receiving weekly stipends ranging from$290 to $502 and are not eligible to receive the unemployment checks that have kept many people solvent during the pandemic.

Those stipends, which have been guaranteed by all clubs through the end of June (even the A’s), may eventually stop being paid depending on what happens with MLB’s 2020 season.

That’s what makes an initiative like Adopt a Minor Leaguer, which allows fans to provide services and gifts as well as financial assistance, even more relevant and timely.

After registering for the program, Iowa man Nick Schlatter was paired with Chicago Cubs catching prospect Caleb Knight. Instead of money, 28-year-old Schlatter sent Knight a care package and a letter during spring training.

“It’s a way to feel closer to the baseball community, while also helping out anyone that I can,” Schlatter told The Washington Post. “That’s always a good thing. If there’s something that I can do in my life to help better the life of someone else, it’s something I strive to do.”

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