As the 2019 Minor League Baseball season has officially come to an end, I want to emphasize how underrated, crazy at times, and just truly amazing the system of baseball’s minor leagues is, and what it means from a fans point of view.
To put it into perspective, out of all major sports in America, baseball undoubtedly has the largest skill-development program, also known as the minor leagues. There are essentially 6 levels of development, ranging from 16-year old international teenage phenoms that were signed by ballclubs in the United States, to guys in their 30’s that may come up and down from the big leagues, or just don’t want to give the sport up yet. If you do the math, that means there are just about 200 minor league baseball teams around the country.
Ballplayers will usually make their way up their teams’ minor league farm system over the course of a few years if they are good enough, while others may never make it to the big leagues. But you know for a fact when you are watching a minor league game that they all have the same goal, making it to Major League Baseball and getting to play on the biggest stage of their lives.
Minor league baseball is truly a grind, and if you have been to enough games like I have, you really start to feel for these guys and respect the sacrifice that they will put down to try to make it to the big leagues. From right out of high school or college, they will be assigned to a farm team of whatever Major league team drafted or signed them. From there, they will train, travel, and live and breathe baseball to do whatever it takes to get better, and ultimately make it to the top one day. Countless long team bus trips, no set living situation, small amounts of equipment, and very minimal pay are just some of the major struggles that these players face every day of their lives. But when it comes to getting out on the field, you will almost never see anybody happier.
Seeing the joy of these guys playing baseball is just one of the very many reasons that Minor League Baseball is a national treasure. You are more than likely never to see more than 10,000 people at a game, so the atmosphere is definitely far more relaxed than a Major League game. The stakes for the team certainly are not as high, as each club almost has an entirely new roster of guys every year, as well as players getting promoted throughout the season. That being said, it is near impossible to build a dynasty as a minor league ballclub, meaning that it’s just day by day, and each prospect is trying to improve themselves in any way possible. So you can leave the nerves and jitters of winning at home, and go out to a game without any worry for a win.
The amount of fun that is had at a minor league game is preposterous. The team’s staff will always have on-field crazy between-inning contests involving fans or silly mascots. The laid back atmosphere makes it a perfect place for kids and adults to get some laughs, as well as interact with the game experience.
Crazy team names, like the ‘Blue Wahoos’ or the ‘Yard Goats’, make for some impressive themes when it comes to marketing the team and branding the ballpark. As I said earlier, there are minor league teams all over the country, which brings in a lot of fun and uniqueness when it comes to the team names. Most are regionally or historically relevant, and with today’s design technology, it makes it a field day for creating superb logos and uniforms. Most minor league ballclubs today even do multiple different alternate logos and jerseys for different themes throughout the season. The fun is continued into special promotions as well, as on any given night there could be a bobblehead or t-shirt giveaway, or a fireworks show after the game. All in all, Minor League Baseball is a breeding ground for wacky marketing schemes, and creativity at its highest.
The greatest part about Minor League Baseball is not just getting to see some of the leagues biggest up and coming prospects or the laid back atmosphere or the promotions, but the fact that anything can happen on any given day. These players are still in development, so it is not always the best baseball you will ever see. One day you may see a 1–0 game, where one pitcher throws a no-hitter, while the next might give you a 16–15 final score with 5+ errors. Just the utter-randomness of the results make for an absolute thrill to watch.
I will no doubt go to Minor League Baseball games for the rest of my life. Getting to experience each team, city, and ballparks different “culture” is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a different world “down on the farm” as opposed to the big leagues, but it is just another reason to love America’s national pastime.
Sports Throne Founder