Game Changer: A Minor League Pitcher's Lost Season

Death, Sex & Money

By WNYC Studios

Game Changer: A Minor League Pitcher's Lost Season

Wednesday, 23 September

Mitch Horacek started the baseball pre-season in Florida, at minor league spring training for the Minnesota Twins. He'd just been signed by the team months before, after seven long years of playing on a low-paying contract for the Rockies. And he felt like it was going to be a big season. "I was probably slated for AAA baseball this year, which is the closest level to the big leagues," Mitch told me when we talked in August. "I do believe that if the season happened this year and I was pitching well right about now, and there was a spot open, it could have been my number that was called."

But the minor league season didn't happen—it was cancelled this spring. Mitch wasn't invited to make his major league debut with the Twins, as he'd hoped. And rather than making the salary Mitch had negotiated with Twins—one that paid him much more than he'd been making for the past seven years—he ended up getting paid a weekly stipend that amounted to $400 a week before taxes. "It is something," he said. "But it's a long shot from what I was expecting." 

This episode is part of our series Game Changer, about how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives and livelihoods of athletes. Look out for the next episode in the series on Friday. 

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