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What MLB teams, players, and fans are doing to help during Covid-19 pandemic

Baseball isn’t happening any time soon, but teams are stepping in with plans to help ballpark employees and minor leaguers who are losing work.

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With the remainder of spring training canceled and MLB Opening Day postponed, ballpark employees without any games to work have been left in a precarious place. Minor league ballplayers are also in a similar situation as they are not paid during spring training and receive only per diem or stipends during that time.

However, MLB teams and individual teams have started to announce plans to help ballpark employees and minor leaguers while the season is delayed.

Ballpark employees

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball teams announced they would each individually pledge $1 million to help out-of-work ballpark employees, according to a release from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. What this assistance will look like depends on how each team works with state and local laws.

After Opening Day had been postponed from March 26 to April 9, MLB announced Monday it would delay the start of the season for at least 8 weeks in accordance with new Center for Disease Control guidance, putting a potential start date somewhere in mid-May.

Once the NBA became the first league to halt its season, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban quickly announced the team would develop a plan to pay stadium workers. The Blazers and the Cavaliers were among teams to also say they would come up with plans to pay stadium workers. Some NBA players, including Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo, announced they would donate money to help these employees.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer set up a charity whiffle ball game to solicit donations that would go toward Reds ballpark employees. The GoFundMe Bauer created has a goal set for $1 million.

Minor leaguers

On March 19, MLB announced that all minor leaguers will receive a lump sum payment for allowances they would have collected through April 8. Each eligible player will receive $400 per week, according to Baseball America.

On March 31, MLB announced minor leaguer players will receive $400 each week through at least May 31 unless the season starts before then. Minor leaguers will also receive medical benefits during this period.

The Tampa Bay Rays earlier announced they will pay the $400 weekly per diem to these players through early April, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. The Dodgers will also honor paying minor league stipends through the end of spring training, according to the LA Times. The Marlins, the Padres, and the Red Sox have also committed to paying their minor leaguers through part or the remainder of spring training, according to Baseball America.

Outside of MLB, efforts by The Athletic’s Emily C. Waldon and Adopt a MiLB player are attempting to help these players in need, including the Yankees minor leaguers who have been quarantined. Organizations like Our Baseball Life and More Than Baseball are continuing their help to minor leaguers during this time, as The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reports.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and his wife Jenny have donated $250,000 to assist Cardinals minor leaguers during the pandemic, according to Waldon. Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is donating $1,000 to each of the 190 minor leaguers in Texas’ farm system, according to the Dallas Morning New’s Evan Grant.

Because minor leaguers are under contract with their teams they are unable to collect unemployment.

Players helping in the community

Major leaguers are also helping in their team communities. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has pledged $125,000 to three organizations in Atlanta.

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is splitting $200,000 to two organizations in Chicago.

Astros infielder Alex Bregman has been helping Houston Food Bank put together meals for students and their families.