Minor Leaguers Get Per Diem Boost

Good news for the hundreds of minor league baseball players that travel thousands of miles on a bus each summer. A per diem boost. They’ll get $25 per day this year after getting $20 for the last few years. The move was approved last week by MLB owners, and reported by the Wall Street Journal.

That may seem like a decent amount. But remember, the players have to play clubhouse dues, which are usually at least $10 per day (they were around $14 in the Pacific Coast League). Throw in a tip, that’s $15 or $16 of the $20 in the PCL (the dues are lower in the lower leagues). That doesn’t leave that much for a quality lunch.

By the way, figuring 70 road games, a 30 person traveling party (including coaches and training staff), and six teams in a minor league system, you’re looking at, give or take, an extra $63,000 in per diem paid by the big league organizations this year.

Big leaguers, mind you, get $89.50 per day (which is roughly $7,250 per year just on the 81 road games, not including travel days, ie leaving on a Wednesday off day for a series that begins on Thursday). Of course, their clubhouse dues are much higher.

According to this story, players usually give the big league clubbies $40-50 per day. From the story:

Former Indians ace Sam McDowell recalled that in 1962, his first full season in the majors, he made $6,000 and was given $9 a day in meal money. That was when a guy could order cereal with fruit and a cup of coffee for a buck at the team hotel, which he usually did.

“Back then, it almost lasted each day,” McDowell said. “A big dinner for me was $6 or $7 with a dollar tip.”

Baseball’s per diem had climbed to $19.50 when Tribe center fielder Rick Manning made the club in 1975, and reached about $40 by the time he retired in 1987. The allowance has more than doubled again since, but that’s not all that’s changed, foodwise. When he played, postgame clubhouse meals consisted of boxes of pizza and buckets of fried chicken.

“You go into a clubhouse now,” the Indians broadcaster said, “the spreads they put out are just like restaurants.”

One recent postgame menu posted in the visitors’ clubhouse at Progressive Field featured grilled pork chops with hunter sauce, roasted salmon with maple bourbon glaze and ginger-smoked chicken in lemon thyme jus.

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