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Why I was broke as a minor league baseball player

Justifying below-poverty level salary for most, just because of the few who sign for the money people dream of, is wrong

Final Countdown: Whether Sim’s career was ultimately a success or not, he can always say he was drafted just 827 players later than Bryce Harper.

So I’ve been recently tweeting about how much we were getting paid in the minor leagues. Now a lot of people have their own ideas on how much we were being paid, or should get paid, then when I tell them exactly what we were getting paid, they all seemed very surprised. The craziest part is that for us, it’s the norm, so we just accepted reality and survived with what we had.

Along with the surprised reactions, the responses I usually got were either

  • “You signed up for it, I would pay money to be in your position” or
  • “Holy shit, that doesn’t seem fair at all”

Well, the good thing about Twitter is that everybody voices their opinions with zero intention of trying to understand or hear each other. So fuck everyone, here is the truth and my opinion.

Let’s break it down.

Real talk, I am a 27th round nobody, who signed for $15,000. If I was a first rounder who signed a $3.5 million contract, we probably won’t be having this talk right now. In fact, there is a very good chance that I would not be writing articles, period, and would be in the Caribbean somewhere drinking a Tiki cocktail at an all-inclusive resort.

Now, after taxes and all, I received a little more than $11,000. Is it better than nothing? Yes. Is it enough for a guy to survive six years in the minor leagues? No. I spent all of the signing bonus within three years of my minor league career.

Quick little story, when I got drafted, my locker mate was drafted a lot higher than me, I opened up my signing bonus check (the team splits the signing bonus in half — they give you the first half when you sign, other half next spring training), which was little over $5000, I was like, damn that’s a lot of money, then I looked at my buddy, and his was over $400,000, I quickly closed my check, began wondering about what went wrong.

This was the contract I signed in 2010. So from mid-June 2010 when I signed until the end of August, I got paid less than $3,000. I went home for a little bit until Instructional league started in early October, was there in camp until the end of October, of course without pay (other than meal money), was invited to November camp for 10 days also without pay, ran those damn stairs on second deck at AT&T Park (we counted over 4,000 of them), came home and started working right away giving baseball lessons at a local baseball facility because I had to.

My first full season in 2011 wasn’t any better, either. I started the year without pay during spring training (month of March), got stuck in extended camp (guys who didn’t make full-season teams) from April until the June draft without pay, then again got paid less than $3,000 from June until the end of August, just like 2010. I did the whole Instructional League thing without pay again, came home for the offseason, and had to find a job right away — which again was giving baseball lessons.

If you say anything about how I missed counting all the glorious $20 meal money I received, I will find you on Twitter and troll the shit out of you.

In 2012, I finally got the hell out of extended and made the full season team in Low A in Augusta, Ga. I most definitely thought I would be saving a bit of money now, because I was getting paid ... not so fast.

My paycheck was around $460 after taxes and clubhouse dues, so do the math: $920 a month, minus rent at the apartment, where it was seven of us staying at a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment where we paid around $300 a month, plus utilities. Also, when you first get there you have to buy essentials to live such as a bed, bed sheets, pillow, pillow cases, bathroom stuff, shower curtains, etc. Let’s not forget groceries, roughly around $400 a month. It’s safe to say that I did not make any money during my time in Disgusta (that’s what we called Augusta because it was so miserable).

I really don’t even want to get into 2013-on, because all it’s going to do is make me sad and prove my point clear.

Yes, there are dudes that sign million-dollar contracts, but the majority of us don’t. Yes, there is a chance for you to make it to MLB and make really good money, but the majority of us don’t. To justify the below-poverty level salary for minor league players just because of the few who sign for the money people dream of, and the few that make it to the show and live the dream, I just don’t completely agree with. Money is being made from major league organizations and also from the farm teams (attendance, gear, etc...). They should make it better for the players so that playing professional baseball (even in the minor leagues) is a real career all kids strive for.

Do it for the kids, man.

Pay minor leaguers more.

Eric Sim is a salty Korean-Canadian who played six seasons in the minors and touched Triple-A ball in 2012 (owns a career average of .500 ... 2-for-4). He’s the first Korean-Canadian ever drafted, and he doesn’t care if you’re not impressed by that, because he doesn’t really care about anything. He uses vulgar words a lot (on an hourly basis, really), so if you’re not OK with that, you can stop reading and go read some other shit written by some nobody like him. But you shouldn’t do that, because he has a shit-ton of stories and experiences from his 20-year, washed-up baseball career (started at age seven, hung up the cleats at age 27, should’ve hung them up at 23, though). He operates a hilarious and thought-provoking Twitter feed @ESim3400, so follow, if you want. When not dropping wisdom about his glorious days in the lowest of A’s, Sim currently manages a bar in small-town Canada, and makes a lot more money than he made playing baseball.