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FAITHFUL FAN | Raise in minimum minor-league salaries long overdue

Catholic teaching: Work reflects human dignity, contributes to the common good

Major League Baseball is raising the minimum salary for minor league players this season, the Associated Press reported on Feb. 14. The AP obtained a memo sent from the commissioner’s office to all of its teams.

Minor League Baseball player contracts are handled by the Major League Baseball office and paid by the MLB teams.

Under the new structure, players at rookie and short-season levels will see their minimum weekly pay go from $290 to $400, and players at Class A will go from $290 to $500. Double-A will jump from $350 to $600, and Triple-A from $502 to $700. Minor leaguers are paid only during the season and don’t receive wages during the offseason or spring training. That means Triple-A players making the minimum can earn $14,000 during their five-month season, and short-season players at the lowest levels can make $4,800 during the three-month season.

It’s a welcome change but not enough. Though the season is short, players may find it difficult to work other jobs in the offseason, especially with the year-round need to stay in shape and sharpen skills. Jeremy Wolf, a former minor league player, told talkpoverty.org last year that he was paid what amounted to $3 an hour for a 70-hour work week.

Last year, Congress exempted minor-leaguers from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour, meaning a full-time worker earns $15,080 over the course of a year. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty level for a single parent raising one child is $15,825, and for a couple with one child is $18,480.

Work has a special place in Catholic teaching. Work is more than just a job; it is a reflection of our human dignity and a way to contribute to the common good.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. ‘Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.’ Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.”

Kobe Bryant’s faith

In the wake of a helicopter crash last month that killed retired basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on their way to a girls basketball tournament, multiple news reports noted Bryant was a practicing Catholic. He and his family regularly attended Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Newport Beach, California. Kobe and Gianna received the Eucharist together just hours before both were killed.

Bryant spoke about how his faith helped him at his highest and lowest moments. After his life hit rock bottom, accused of raping a woman in a hotel room in Colorado, the thing that helped him recover was a talk with his priest, he said. The day he retired from basketball, he went to church to give thanks for his career.

Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.

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