LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers continue to try to lend a hand to part-time staff impacted by the postponed start to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, team chairman/CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement he was proud to join the other 29 Major League clubs with a $1 million commitment to help part-time hourly staff at Comerica Park affected by postponed games.
“Now that further decisions have been made by Major League Baseball to delay the start of the season, we have another group of Detroit Tigers employees who face uncertain times,” Ilitch said in a statement.
It’s the second such pledge from Ilitch in less than a week. Last Friday, Ilitch Holdings announced a $1 million commitment to cover a month’s wages for part-time workers affected by cancellations at others Ilitch venues, including a half-dozen Tigers Spring Training games canceled at Joker Marchant Stadium.
On Thursday, Ilitch said on FOX that three tons’ worth of food from Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena will be donated to Forgotten Harvest, a local service that delivers surplus food to area charities. The food from Comerica Park was being readied for the Tigers’ home opener before Major League Baseball delayed the start of the season.
“I think in tough times, good people rise up,” Ilitch told the network. “That's happening across America. That's certainly happening here in Detroit, and it's important that we all pull together as a community to help one another out.”
Ilitch also announced Wednesday that Tigers Minor League players who were in camp in Lakeland will be paid the remainder of their Spring Training allowances. While several Tigers Major Leaguers are holding informal workouts at Tigertown, Minor Leaguers were sent home last weekend after Minor League camp was suspended.
“It's about taking care of family,” Ilitch told FOX, “and we consider all of the colleagues within our organization as our family. We're just trying to do things that hopefully bring them a little bit of comfort and certainty in what are very uncertain times for all of us.”
Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd had expressed concern about Minor League players and others while talking with reporters on a Monday morning conference call from Lakeland.
“I know there’s guys on the big league side that don’t have a lot of big league time,” Boyd said. “These are guys that have obviously made more money than Minor Leaguers, and they’re looking for jobs right now. I think that speaks to some of the hardships that guys or young families do face when paychecks stop rolling in. …
“And it's not just us. It's people at the stadiums, people all around the game. Everybody is affected by this.”
The Spring Training allowance hopefully will help ease the burden. Ilitch called the move “keeping in line with our goal of supporting those hardest hit by the cancellations and postponements.”