The coronavirus outbreak has created uncertainty over when the Major League season will start, and that causes economic uncertainty for thousands of seasonal ballpark employees whose paychecks depend on games being played.
MLB’s 30 teams are stepping to the plate to help those employees, with every team donating $1 million to the cause. The commitment was officially announced Tuesday afternoon.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist the thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay in the start of the Major League Baseball season,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Motivated by a desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each Club has committed $1 million. The individual clubs will be announcing more details surrounding this support effort in their local communities.”
More details regarding how and when the funds will be available are forthcoming on a team-by-team basis.
“The timing of these announcements will vary because of the need to coordinate with state and local laws as well as collective bargaining obligations in an effort to maximize the benefits realized by each group of employees,” Manfred said. “I am proud that our clubs came together so quickly and uniformly to support these individuals who provide so much to the game we love.”
Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 26 and initially delayed for a minimum of two weeks amid the rapid spread of the global pandemic. Subsequent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that halt gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks have pushed back the start of the 2020 season even further.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, heralded the collective effort of the clubs.
“It just speaks volumes about how even though we’re adversaries and even though we compete between the white lines, when something like this pops up, we rally around,” Lovullo said. “It’s a way for us to come together and support everybody that’s effected by this. I think it’s a pretty loud statement that Major League Baseball made by showing that kind of support.“
In addition to the $30 million total committed by the clubs to seasonal employees, MLB and the MLB Players Association made a combined $1 million commitment -- split evenly between Feeding America (FeedingAmerica.org) and Meals on Wheels America (MealsonWheelsAmerica.org) – to assist those who have difficulty accessing food. Various players have taken the individual opportunity to help those in need, such as Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. donating to the Houston Food Bank and the Anthony Rizzo Foundation arranging the donation of meals to nurses, doctors and staff of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.