Shea: Pandemic is a threat for independent baseball leagues where margins are thinnest

From Bill Shea at The Athletic on March 18, 2020:

Suburban Detroit sports entrepreneur Andy Appleby is keeping a close eye on the coronavirus situation as he prepares for his independent professional baseball league’s fifth season.

The pandemic has brought just about every sport and league to a halt as health officials and governments struggle to contain the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus by limiting public gatherings.

For Appleby’s United Shore Professional Baseball League, opening day is May 8 and he is left wondering if there will be baseball that day or if his season will be delayed or even canceled.

He’s not alone.

At the very lowest tier of baseball – the independent leagues unaffiliated with the majors’ farm system, where young rookies and sometimes aging veterans vie for their first or last shot at the majors – the threat of COVID-19 postponements and cancellations is especially acute because the financial margins are usually razor thin. And that’s even with players often making a grand or less a month. In the formal MiLB system, the major league clubs cover the player salary costs.

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Originally published: March 19, 2020. Last Updated: March 19, 2020.