Garrett Broshuis left his baseball dreams behind to become a lawyer. He walked away from the game after the 2009 season. He had been drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 draft by the San Francisco Giants. He made it as far as Triple-A, one level below the Majors, with three appearances in 2009.
After leaving baseball he enrolled in the law school at St. Louis University. His goalwas to sue Major League Baseball in an effort to improve the salaries of players in the minors, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
His dream came true on February 7 when his firm, Korein Tillery, and a firm in San Francisco filed a lawsuit against MLB in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Five entities were named as defendants; MLB commissioner Bud Selig, Major League Baseball, the Miami Marlins, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.
A minor leaguer from each team was brought on to serve as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Michael Liberto was for the Royals and Aaron Senne was for the Marlins. Oliver Odle was for the Giants. More plaintiffs have entered the lawsuit, which has expanded to include all 30 MLB teams.
Major League Baseball is exempt from antitrust laws and the players in the Majors are protected by the players union and the collective bargaining agreement. Despite this, minor league players have zero power and are exploited by a system that is “artificially and illegally depressing minor league wages,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit shows data that says salaries in the Majors have increased since 1976 by 2,000 percent while salaries in the minors have seen just a 75 percent increase for the same period. Inflation has risen by 400 percent in that period.
“The basic allegation is that Major League Baseball has allowed salaries within the minor leagues to fall so low that during the season they often pay salaries that are below minimum wage,” said Broshuis in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They require minor leaguers to routinely work overtime hours, sometimes 60 to 70 hours a week, and they don’t pay overtime wages.”
The lawsuit was filed based on the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The minimum salary last year for a major leaguer was $500,000 and the average salary was $3.3 million. Minor leaguers make anywhere from $3,000 to $7,500 per year. They are not paid during Spring Training or during instructional leagues that operate in the off-season.
“It’s nearly impossible to live on those salaries,” Broshuis said. “I looked around and saw six guys piling into two- and three-bedroom apartments. I saw guys sleeping on air mattresses, guys who were 25 or 26 sleeping on futons in homes of host families, sometimes bringing their wife and kids along. I saw guys skipping lunch or waiting until they got to the field to eat anything because they didn’t want to pay for lunch. It just didn’t seem right. This was part of the reason I went to law school, to find a solution to this problem.”
The defendants filed a motion to have the lawsuit moved to Florida last month as Selig filed a response that denied the allegations.