As the major-league teams faced off, so did their minor-league affiliates, and that’s where the weekend went beyond baseball. Numerous players from the Phillies’ Jersey Shore BlueClaws and Mets’ Brooklyn Cyclones wore teal silicon bands designed by the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers (akin to the Livestrong trend of the mid-2000s), that read #FairBall.
Andrew McCutchen shows support for minor leaguers during Phillies-Mets game
Then, on Sunday, Phillies big-leaguer and popular MLB veteran Andrew McCutchen wore one during their series finale. The game was this week’s Sunday Night Baseball game, meaning Cutch and his new accessory were broadcast live on ESPN nationwide.
For anyone who has been following Cutch’s career, it wasn’t surprising to see him be the first big-league player to join the movement. He is on the active player committee of The Players Alliance, has been active in educating fans about the history of the Negro Leagues, and is known for his generosity and philanthropy. In August 2020, he was one of several players who donated parts of their salaries (already drastically reduced due to the pandemic-shortened season) to combat racial inequality.
In 2015, he shared his story in The Players’ Tribune about how hard it was to get into baseball coming from a low-income neighborhood, and that without an AAU coach noticing him and helping him financially, he may never have made it here. He also notes that growing up, he wanted to play professional football instead, because trying to work your way up through the minor leagues seemed impossible financially:
"“People talk about the big, guaranteed money in baseball, and I certainly feel blessed that I am where I am now. But people don’t look at it through the eyes of a 17-year-old kid. You’re looking at maybe five years of minor league ball, and then you could be tendered, non-tendered, they can re-sign you for a year. You might be making anywhere from 10 to 50 grand in the minors. If you’re lucky enough to get a bonus, you can live well off that money if you spread it out. But just remember, there’s up to 40 rounds in the draft. Most guys are struggling. After three years in the majors, you finally get to arbitration. Basically, by the sixth year in the big leagues, you get your first big contract — if you make it that far. Imagine explaining this confusing process to a 17-year-old kid whose family is just trying to put food on the table. “So you wanna play baseball now?”"