Pro Sports Glamour? Minor Leaguers Say They Barely Get Paid

Three minor league baseball players hope for class action suit over wages.

Feb. 12, 2014 — -- Professional athletes seem to have all of life's luxuries at their disposal: money, fame, and getting the sports fan's ultimate dream job -- that is, unless you're a minor league player and have trouble getting paid at all, three baseball players are claiming in a lawsuit.

Three former professional athletes say they were paid $3,000 to $7,500 for a season, despite working more than 50 hours per week -- in other words, less than minimum wage, according to their lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court on Friday.

In the hope of being certified as a class on behalf of all minor leaguers, the former players are suing the Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball's Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, Allan "Bud" Selig.

One of the plaintiffs, Aaron Senne, is a former minor leaguer with the Marlins from 2010 to 2013 who now lives in Rochester, Minn. When he was drafted by the Marlins in the 10th round of MLB's 2010 draft, he received a $25,000 one-time bonus for a seven-year contract, the lawsuit stated, and received two semesters in a college scholarship fund. In 2010, he played with the Marlins' short-season A team, the Jamestown Jammers. He stayed at the Marlins' spring training site in Jupiter, Fla., for the entire 2011 season, then the entire championship season in 2012 in Greensboro, N.C.

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Senne, who is back in school at the University of Missouri, said in the lawsuit that the Marlins "failed" to meet state and federal minimum wage standards during his time as a player.

The lawsuit's other two named plaintiffs, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle, made similar allegations against the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, respectively.

Senne alleged he was paid $1,100 a month for his work in Jamestown, which came to about $3,000 for the entire 2010 season, $3,000 in 2011, about $7,000 in 2012, and $3,000 in 2013.

Spokesmen for Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. A spokeswoman for the San Francisco Giants referred to Major League Baseball. The Miami Marlins did not respond to requests for comment.

The players seek unspecified back pay, according to their lawsuit.

Garret Broshuis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the issue of low pay is only "talked about in locker rooms."

Broshuis said one of the problems for minor leaguers is that the players don't have a union like that of Major League Players Association.

"Minor League has not unionized. Over time, minor leaguers have been completely forgotten and have hardly enjoyed any salary increases," Broshuis said.

"Minor League Baseball is no different than any other employer, whether you're a Denny's, McDonald's or Minor League Baseball worker, when it comes to compliance," George Zelcs, another attorney for the plaintiffs, told