Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is stepping up to help protect the livelihoods of minor league players who have been disrupted by Covid-19. Choo is giving each player in the Rangers’ minor league system $1,000, all because he remembers walking in their shoes.
Clubs have pledged to pay their minor-leaguers $400 per week until the end of May, leaving many unsure of what will happen afterward. It’s still possible MLB teams will continue to provide assistance past the May deadline, but there’s no way to know until that happens. With the possibility of the minor league season being canceled entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a daunting, scary proposition for players hoping to make a big league roster.
Choo explained his decision to the Dallas Morning News:
“I will never forget the minor leagues,” he said in a conference call. “I will never forget having to make that decision. Every day, I had to make a schedule of meals. I had to plan things out. I don’t want players to have to do the same thing. I don’t want them to have to worry about these kinds of things. People are really having a tough time. I can help. I can help people because of baseball and I want to give back.”
Choo has never forgotten those roots, as his tradition of catering a meal for everyone in the Rangers’ minor league system is well known, making the $190K pledge that much more meaningful.
This isn’t the only case of a Major League player looking out for those still dreaming of making an opening day roster. Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals made a pledge of his own last week, giving $250,000 to minor league players to help relieve some of the financial burden they’re under during the stoppage.
Major League Baseball grossed a whopping $10.7 billion dollars in revenue in 2019, almost doubling year-over-year thanks to TV and merchandise agreements. A total of 18 MLB owners have a net worth of over $1 billion, yet players are the ones stepping up to help protect the future of the game and not the people who stand to profit the most from it.
Minor League Baseball is the lifeblood of the game itself, serving as a springboard for MLB hopefuls and offering live sports in places yearning to rally around professional teams. Its value isn’t solely quantifiable by the bottom line. What it does to promote and celebrate the game, especially to younger generations who are moving away from baseball to other sports, is a huge part of why it exists.
What Choo has pledged is generous and remarkable.
Now it’s time for the richest people in baseball to help, as well.