Minor League players and Independent ball players barely make enough money to survive. For those players who have wives and even kids, who they need to buy youth baseball cleats for, the very low salary makes it extremely difficult for any type of extended stay in the Minors. Some have hung-up their cleats for this reason alone.
When the team is not on the road, the players need somewhere to stay. If they can afford an apartment, that’s great. If not, sometimes players look for a family in the area to host them for free (or at least at a cost less than what they would pay for an apartment). This is more common in Indy ball than MiLB. Sometimes these host families are the perfect fit for young players. They have the opportunity to receive good home cooked food, they often are morally grounded, etc. Josh Faiola loves his situation, but his meals might consist of more apple sauce and ice cream than he’s used to. He is being hosted at an assisted living facility.
Faiola was selected by the Baltimore Orioles out of Dartmouth in the 24th round (715th overall) of the June 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and was solid, but not spectacular, in a short amount of time with the Rookie Appalachian League Bluefield Orioles last year. Now he is with the Lake Erie Crushers in the Frontier League (Indy Ball), where some of his biggest fans are at least 80-years-old. My favorite line from the CNN article:
Eighty-four-year-old Meda Dennis, who has been living in the center for four years, said Faiola’s arrival is the most exciting thing to happen since a good Elvis impersonator showed up.
Don’t be so harsh, Meda! Faiola’s got some stuff on the mound. Anyone can impersonate Elvis! But I digress.
This actually happens to be a very nice story. And it shows that Independent baseball leagues do good for players looking to continue playing, and also for the communities surrounding the ballparks. We hear stories every day about how harsh economic times may force smaller leagues to diminish or at least cut down in size. I sure hope not, because if that’s the case, then people like Meda Dennis will be left without her newest prize and Josh Faiola will be looking for a new job.