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Living Wages for Baseball Staffers

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I enjoyed reading this profile of Boston Red Sox organist Josh Kantor, largely because he’s a player in the larger New England music scene and sat in for most of the Drive-By Truckers’ show in Providence last fall, which was super cool. However, one thing about this interview alarmed me greatly:

AVC: You’re doing 81 games a year, plus playoffs?

JK: Yeah, 81 home games, and then hopefully if were lucky there are playoff games in addition to that.

AVC: Are you full-time or are you contract? Are you paid by the Red Sox?

JK: I get paid by the Boston Red Sox. I receive an hourly wage, which is a pretty small hourly wage, but I love the work, so that’s why I keep going back.

AVC: You’re not getting Big Papi money?

JK: Oh, I’m not even getting pay-the-bills money. I work an office job, and I do a ton of freelance music work as well.

What? The Boston Red Sox, an organization raking in endless dollars, does not pay their organist, who works 81 days a year, assuming they don’t make the playoffs, anything even approaching a living wage? Do they really pay him $10 an hour or something? That is absolutely disgraceful. It’s not as if I didn’t already know that professional sports franchises owned by billionaires with gargantuan television deals and endless marketing opportunities take every penny possible from their everyday employees. They’d still be doing the same to the players if they could get away with it. But I would have figured someone as central to the team as its long-time organist would at least be getting something that looks like a living wage. But no. Not even close evidently. Call me a filthy communist if you will, but I think the Red Sox organist should be able to pay his bills on his salary.

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  • drwormphd

    C’mon Erik he obviously enjoys his fun job, and that enjoyment counts as pay. Besides, he’s getting exposure for his musical career!

    • Judas Peckerwood

      Damn, beat me to it!

    • Yes, they could easily find dozens of competent volunteers. They could probably even get people to pay them for the privilege.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Yeah, he doesn’t sound like he’s missing the money. Its ok if people have avocations, and there’s no great outrage for capitalists to let them pursue it. If the organist ain’t pushing for a raise, why should we???

        • brad
        • leftwingfox

          Because it devalues creative labor across the board.

          • ThrottleJockey

            You’re right. Taylor Swift is suuuure missing out on some checks!

            • brad

              … even for you…

            • Lost Left Coaster

              You are aware that “creative labor” refers to a vast swath of people who work in the arts / entertainment. My wife works for a Hollywood production studio. Creative labor is exploited at every turn in the film industry, no matter how much money the big stars make. Check out the controversy over the movie “Sausage Party” and how the animation studio that produced it allegedly underpaid their workers (not going to embed a link because it seems every time I do my comment gets caught in the spam filter).

              • leftwingfox

                You’ve all been doing such a good job, I didn’t need to pile on…

                But yeah, I’m an animator. A good animator knows not only how to draw well, but also how to act, how to replicate that action through the fixed tempo of film, and to use whatever software is required to make that possible.

                But it’s also a labor of love, which means there’s usually a glut of talented people willing to knock themselves out to do a great job.

                Raw capitalism will happily take advantage of that eagerness and oversupply to charge an arm and a leg for education, then turn animation studios into sweatshops.

            • Matt McIrvin

              There aren’t a lot of Taylor Swifts.

              • Downpuppy

                Swifts? Nae.
                But many swallows.
                For one swallow does not Donna Summer make

            • MyNameIsZweig

              What the hell does that have to do with the realities of people who work in creative industries? You gave an example of someone who has hit the career lottery. Great. Now please explain the relevance of that to this discussion.

              I’m not holding my breath, though.

          • Brett

            It really doesn’t. He’s getting paid for this, and it’s a part-time job that he’s obviously doing for reasons other than just money.

            • MyNameIsZweig

              he’s obviously doing for reasons other than just money

              Which is great for him but not relevant for other creative workers trying to pay the bills off what they earn for their labor.

              Come on – it’s the Boston Fucking Red Sox we’re talking about here. If any organization could afford to pay, it’s that one.

        • Matt McIrvin

          The band my wife plays in has only one paid employee, namely the conductor, and I don’t think they pay him much (it’s not his only job).

          But that band is a non-profit entity that isn’t raking in Major League Baseball bucks.

          • efgoldman

            The band my wife plays in….

            What band? I’ve been involved with bands in/around Boston since the 80s.

            ETA: That’s typical of community bands/orchestras/choruses.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        “Dozens of competent volunteers” — so you think that there are dozens of talented, professional-level organists in the Boston area that are available for 81 games + post-season per year?

        I seriously doubt that.

        • wjts

          Honestly, I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find two or three dozen qualified people just on the Berklee campus.

        • efgoldman

          so you think that there are dozens of talented, professional-level organists in the Boston area that are available for 81 games + post-season per year?

          Oh hell yes.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      I know you’re snarking, but I’m pretty sure that in this instance the exposure is actually fairly valuable. For example, how many other organists ever get national media attention?

      • brad

        Doesn’t the size of the stage imply that this, in fact, should be one of the prestige positions in the field?
        Along with the relative revenues of the business concerned, and the importance of the organ in the old-timey feel that Fenway wants to simulate/still have.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Oh, I’m not even getting pay-the-bills money. I work an office job, and I do a ton of freelance music work as well.

    He’s a freelancer, so he’s getting paid in exposure.

  • He loses money on every game but he’s making it up on volume.

    • +11.

      • Joseph Slater

        This numerical comment makes me regret the lack of a “like” or “upvote” function keenly.

  • Is that an organ or a console for a space ship!

    • skate

      Yes.

      • trollhattan

        The Sox swiped it from the “Close Encounters” space ship. “Be-Boo-Ba-Be-Buuuuh”

  • CaptainBringdown

    They’d still be doing the same to the players if they could get away with it.

    They do to minor leaguers.

    • TroubleMaker13

      Minimum salary at AAA level (not on an MLB 25-man roster) is apparently $2150/mo.

      • Murc

        That’s roughly $13.50 an hour, pre-tax.

        • TroubleMaker13

          Assuming only 8-hour days, yes. Probably not a valid assumption though.

          • Fake Irishman

            They do get meal money too, though it’s a pittance.

      • CaptainBringdown

        A lot of players at lower levels are making less than minimum wage and there’s a bill pending in congress to keep it that way.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Not to mention too that these guys lead very precarious lives, moving around all the time, barely making rent, etc. It is not easy. They’re all holding on because they want a shot at the big time, but only a few will make it to the top.

    • bernard

      Calculating minor league players’ pay is tricky business. Lots of them, even late round draft picks, may get signing bonuses in the six figures. Prorate that over three or four years in the minors and it makes a difference.

      So does even a very short stint in the majors. Get called up and you get a prorated part of the $400K+ major league minimum. You get lifetime health coverage if you spend just one day on a major league roster, and you get pension benefits – minimum $34K/yr – if you make it to 43 days.

      Sure, not everyone gets a significant bonus, or ever gets called up, but it’s not as bad as the comments make it sound.

  • gorillagogo

    At least they still pay an organist. When the Pirates’ long time organist died a few years ago, they decided to honor his memory by playing recordings of some of his songs. You’d think it would be more honorable to hire a new organist, thereby insuring someone else in his field could make a few bucks at a high profile gig

    • Ahenobarbus

      Did they pay royalties on the recordings?

      • Just_Dropping_By

        To the organist’s estate? I have a hard time believing that the past performances wouldn’t be considered work for hire if he was regularly employed by the baseball team to perform in their venue unless he had something special in his contract that let him own the rights.

    • djw

      I think only 8 or 9 teams still employ live organists.

      (On the Venn diagram of “traditions started by the Cubs” and “traditions I actually like” it occupies pretty much all of the overlapping space.)

      • The “W” and “L” flags are good too

        • ASV

          Well, the “L” one is.

  • NewishLawyer

    The classic thing that people tell anyone going into the arts is “Don’t do it unless you can’t imagine doing anything else.”

    My somewhat glib and cynical take on this is that there are two people who can go into the arts:

    1. People who can afford to be independently wealthy in the arts.

    2. People who grew up in deep down enough poverty that they can stand the uncertainty.

    The problem with the arts is that there really is a lot more supply than there ever will be demand. There also seems to be a collective action problem because the best ways for artists to start getting paid is to absolutely refuse to stop working for those that don’t pay but there always seem to be repalacements in the wings and it is impolitic to call these people scabs according to my artists-friends.

    I used to be involved in theatre. I stopped when I realized that a theatre life was not going to happen. I still know a lot of people involved in the arts. Some come from money, many do not. Some found decent to good day jobs, others have not. But a lot of them have a compulsion to have their art seen in ways that are economically counterproductive.

    One woman I know keeps on writing for XOJane and feeding the Internet confessional-cringe machine* even though XOJane profits off of free labor. I’m not sure whether telling her to stop writing for XOJane would work because she wants her writing to be seen. She is willing to do things like “I tried hot vagina stones so you don’t have to” for the free sites.

    A lot of my artists friends used to post this cartoon on facebook:

    http://www.gwarlingo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/If-Other-People-Were-Paid-Like-Artists.jpg

    The problem is that people generally go into business for the benefit to the wallet and not any psychic benefit. Law and Medicine are a bit more mixed but I imagine a good majority want the wallet benefit over any psychic benefit of curing the sick or fighting for justice.

    So this might be cruel but it strikes me as kind of naive that my artists friends don’t quite realize this. They deserve to be paid and paid well but this cartoon is not going to convince anyone. I don’t even understand the purpose of the cartoon.

    • NewishLawyer

      Forgot my asterisk, I am generally perplexed by the Internet’s First Person Industrial Complex and the things people are willing to confess on the Internet.

      Then again, I distrust memoirs for a high risk of omitting material fact and unreliable narration and prefer third person observers.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        I read The Guardian every morning for news, and on their home page they always have a whole section of this crap. It must really sell. It’s mortifying stuff, though.

    • gorillagogo

      I don’t think artists are any more naive than any other group — most artists don’t go $100K in debt or whatever law school costs these days, for example. Regardless, the cartoon is speaking to how non-artists expect artists to work for free. Every single working artist that I know — and I went to art school so I know a lot — says fuck that noise pay me. My ex has been supporting herself for 30 years as an artist and she regularly advises students to expect payment for services

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        Artists most certainly do get that much debt-look at all the private art institutes and so forth. They own a shitload of the property in San Francisco.

        • NewishLawyer

          You don’t even need to look at the for-profit art institutes. Plenty of respected universities have MFA programs in writing, drama, film, etc.

          When I was 23, I was told that no one would hire me as a director until I got my MFA. This was/is probably true.

      • NewishLawyer

        Lots of artists get MFAs and do so on student debt. Despite the law school crisis/recession, I’ve done much much better economically with my law degree than in theatre.

      • NewishLawyer

        But there is still a psychic benefit to being an artist of some kind that we don’t associate with other fields.

        Being an artist is very hard work, it is not playing. There are also people who really enjoy working in business fields but I imagine if you went to a business major and a theatre major and asked them why they picked their majors, you would get very different reasons. I imagine business majors answers will be much more economically inclined towards the market.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        Sadly, the average student debt loads at Berklee, Julliard, etc. are among the highest of any undergrad non-profit colleges.

        • efgoldman

          Sadly, the average student debt loads at Berklee, Julliard, etc. are among the highest of any undergrad non-profit colleges.

          Major in music at BU (excellent music school) you pay the same outrageous tuition as any other undergraduate, roughly $49k/year.

    • vic rattlehead

      The good thing about writing is that you can do it on the side pretty easily. Tons of famous authors did just that.

      That being said, I would love a grant to take a year or two off of work to work on a writing project. Problem for me is its not just the money-if my book weren’t a success and didn’t lead to an alternative career, I’d have to go back to law after a two year absence.

      That’s why I’d love some sort of basic income. For those who are so inclined, it’d basically be a grant to work on their art. I guess depending on the kind of art-easy to keep low overhead with writing. If I could do nothing but watch movies and write all day (not motions or memos) I’d be a happy camper.

      The days when someone like John Cheever could make a good living selling short stories are long gone. But I can self publish and pretend I’m George Saunders…

      • NewishLawyer

        A lot of my friends do what is usually called “pro-am” theatre or Professional-Amateur. You rehearse on nights and weekends, pick jobs that are almost always nine to five or give flexibility (Lots of actors like to work as real estate agents). They are professional in the fact that they have actual training and are doing new productions. Amateur in the fact that they are not really trying to go full time or get grants like the more established non-profits.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      There also seems to be a collective action problem because the best ways for artists to start getting paid is to absolutely refuse to stop working for those that don’t pay but there always seem to be replacements in the wings and it is impolitic to call these people scabs according to my artists-friends.

      Except that even if you could overcome the collective action problem, that doesn’t avoid the substitution problem. Contrary to what many artists like to believe, live/in-person/customized art is pretty clearly not actually viewed as a necessity by the vast majority of people. Making live/in-person/customized art more expensive will almost certainly have the first effect of driving increased substitution of recorded/remote/mass-produced art. (Thus, the surviving artists may be better paid, but there will be fewer of them.)

      • NewishLawyer

        Theatre certainly has this problem. Seeing theatre as a child seems to produce people who are really into doing theatre or not much interest at all. It produces relatively few to no people who just like seeing theatre at this point.

        The opportunity costs for seeing theatre and a lot of live art are pretty high but I suppose no higher than seeing a sports game.

        My friends who seem to complain the most are in the weird spot of being not commercial but also not what the fashionable (read: moneyed) avant-garde art market wants.

    • ScarletNumber

      How come you don’t call yourself Saul DeGraw here?

      As for the OP, you are a filthy communist. Organ player for a baseball team isn’t a full-time job, it is at most 4 hours a day for 81+ games per year. I’m surprised he is paid hourly; I would think a per diem would be more appropriate.

  • Saskexpat

    My impression from following sports my whole life is that owners are generally incredible cheapskates, especially on issues that don’t get any regular publicity. This also applies to local team-paid broadcasters, and those contract negotiations can often get very ugly.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Yes. This reminds me about the fact that cheerleaders for pro sports get paid very little and are expected to be happy with (here’s that word again) “exposure.”

  • TroubleMaker13

    The Boston Red Sox, an organization raking in endless dollars, does not pay their organist, who works 81 days a year, assuming they don’t make the playoffs, anything even approaching a living wage?

    Not to diminish the sports-team-owners-as-rapacious-greedheads take, but I think this is the wrong framing. This seems to fit squarely in the “musicians/artists are creative types who hate money and will work for the sheer joy of it, so we’re not going to pay them” realm.

  • Ahenobarbus

    So should an 81-day a year job, a few hours a night, be paid as a full-time job? What do we do with part-time work like this?

    • TroubleMaker13

      I’ll just point out that this guy is a skilled, professional artist.

      I mean, the play on the field is only a few hours a night too. How much should their part-time wage be?

      • dave

        I think the issue is that the marginal utility to the Redsox of having this skilled professional organist as opposed to some other less skilled organist is basically zero. As long as they have someone with a baseline level of competence (can render the 15 second snippet of each pop song recognizable and plays at the right time) I don’t think they care at all whether the organist hits every note perfectly and is good enough to play with the Drive By Truckers.

        The players, on the other hand, have a significant and direct effect on the owners bottom line and the baseline level of competence required is much much higher as is the value of any additional level of skill the player brings to the table. They also work year round (if you include training an conditioning)

        That’s not to say that this guy shouldn’t be paid a reasonable wage, its just that I don’t think its reasonable to expect that he be paid an amount commensurate with his actual talent level since he is vastly overqualified for the position. To expect otherwise would just mean they would give the job to someone who isn’t overqualified.

        • TroubleMaker13

          The players, on the other hand, have a significant and direct effect on the owners bottom line

          This is obviously a fair point. I’m really pushing back against the insinuation that because this guy’s payoff performance is only a few hours a night every other week in the summer, that he’s some kind of casual part-timer. Professional musicians put a lot of work into training and conditioning too, and talent doesn’t just grow on trees.

          Sure, he’s not going to make top-dollar playing organ for the Red Sox, but even someone minimally qualified deserves professional-level pay.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            Except what is “professional-level pay” for an organist? I’ve known four organists in my life and AFAICT none of them made a living off of their organ performances alone. The primary source of income for all of them appeared to be giving music private music lessons or teaching music in a school setting.

            • TroubleMaker13

              I’m not suggesting that this is a phenomenon restricted to organists, it affects most professional creative artists and is pretty wide-spread, hence your friends’ experience.

              But let’s just put it this way: how much do your friends charge per hour for lessons? Around here, the average going rate seems to be $30-$50/hour. I hope this guy is at least getting something at the higher end of that range.

        • dave

          After reading the article I think I may have been unfair to this organist. He actually does seem to provide significant entertainment value at a high skill level by taking requests via twitter and converting pop songs to organ on the fly. I don’t have any musical background so I can’t really say whether a replacement level organist could actually do what he does.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            They may not be able to do it, but you still need to consider whether the value-add for the team from having an organist with that skill offsets the cost of employing the more skilled organist. He could be the world’s best organist of all time, but is anybody buying a ticket to a baseball game because of the organ music?

            • Lost Left Coaster

              is anybody buying a ticket to a baseball game because of the organ music?

              Sure, but couldn’t you say that about just about anything that is not directly involved with the action on the field?

              People go to see baseball played, but the atmosphere and experience of being in a ballpark (especially a historic, much-storied park like Fenway) is not tangential to the experience and certainly is central to the decision to purchase a ticket. Otherwise just watch the game on the teevee. You can see the players better, for one thing.

              • efgoldman

                but the atmosphere and experience of being in a ballpark (especially a historic, much-storied park like Fenway) is not tangential to the experience

                I grew up a 15 minute walk from Fenway. The team was hideously awful when I was a kid, and the best seats were maybe three bucks.
                Now that I’m an old man, it’s the most expensive ticket in MLB, and frankly all but maybe 5000 seats really, really suck. They can take it down tomorrow for all I care.

    • djw

      At most Churches the Sunday organist is a low=paying part-time job. But at larger, wealthier churches, it’s fairly common to have at least one organist as a full time, benefits eligible employee. Note that while these Churches are larger and more wealthy than most Churches, they’re considerably smaller and less wealthy than the Boston Red Sox. They recognize organists as people with a specialized, unique skill and talent–they’ll often recruit nationally and hire musicians with advanced degrees.

      • Denverite

        When I met my spouse, she was in grad school, and she supplemented her stipend by playing the organ at a nearby church. She made about $200 a week, IIRC, for a job that entailed one weeknight (when the choir practiced) and then two or three services on Sunday, plus special holiday services. It was a pretty good gig for someone who was OK with only part time work.

        • djw

          A friend of mine makes about as much as I do as a professor as a Church organist. (He does work more than that; how much more I’m not sure.) And he’s not even the lead organist! There are actually three organists, although #3 is a part time position. Ah, wealthy Texas Episcopalians.

          • Denverite

            Same denomination, wrong part of the country.

            (The funny thing is that when we first started dating, when she said that she had to be home reasonably early because the first church services was at 7:30 am, I thought she was one of those super-religious types, so I took it really slow. Slow enough that she almost wrote me off after three dates because she didn’t think I was attracted to her. Turns out I was totally misreading things; she was just in the church organ business for the money.)

      • Ahenobarbus

        1. It would be nice if they hired him full time and gave him more to do. Heck, who plays the organ for the Bruins? The local organist in my home town did both baseball and hockey for many years.

        2. I agree the fact that this is the wealthy Red Sox matters. But are we angry only because of that? There’s a more general argument about this sort of part-time, piecemeal work.

        • Dilan Esper

          Part of the backstory here is organists are being phased out. Most franchises just use taped music.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            Yes, that’s the thing that’s stupid about insisting that every job, no matter how intermittent, unskilled, trivial, and/or easily automated, must pay a “living wage” (a term that is generally left conveniently undefined) — at some point the job will be eliminated rather than pay increased. Here, the organist is highly skilled, but the job could be very easily automated, so the team clearly only keeps him on board because it’s deemed that there’s some marginal value to having a live organist. Push too hard, and that goes away.

          • Tsotate

            Do they pay the guy running their sound board a living wage, though?

        • efgoldman

          Heck, who plays the organ for the Bruins?

          For what seems like 50+ years (and maybe it was) that the late John Kiley played for both the Sox and the Bruins. Harder now, as the seasons overlap more, especially if both teams get into the post season.

      • efgoldman

        At most Churches the Sunday organist is a low=paying part-time job.

        Most church organists double as choir directors.
        mrs efg has been director of several church choirs that literally couldn’t afford to pay her; she is now. The hard work isn’t on Sunday, it’s during the weeks in August and September when she sits with the church music handbook for the year and picks the music for various days on the church calendar.
        OTOH for 16 years I broadcast the service of a large Boston UU church. They have a large, specific music endowment. The organist/choir director isn’t paid full time, but he is played very well. The also have a professional paid choir, who are all freelancers. In Boston, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a dozen free lance musicians, many of whom struggle but many of whom make a very good living. The ballet orchestra, the opera orchestra, all the orchestras which are hired to accompany the 654427 choruses, the Boston Pops “Esplanade” Orchestra that plays Sunday and Monday nights during the Pops season (the regulars get two days off but there are concerts every night), the pit orchestras for road company musicals, even the band that plays for the circus, are all free-lancers. Plus most of them teach.

    • rea

      Read the article–you’ll see that this guy doesn’t just work 81 nights a year–he spends an enormous amount of prep time, too.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Fair enough. But you know that the consequence of having to pay him $50K a year (or whatever a living wage is) will be they’ll drop him in favor of recordings.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          And recordings, as everyone knows, are free.

      • TroubleMaker13

        You need to also consider the opportunity cost of keeping 81 nights free on his schedule during prime summer months. The life of a working musician can be feast-or-famine, catch-as-catch-can. If you’re going to commit to 81 minimum-wage gigs per year, you’re going to have to pass up some potentially more lucrative opportunities. No touring for Josh Kantor.

        • randy khan

          Actually, for most freelance musicians, the hot time of year is the holidays. Sure, you have weddings during the summer, but from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day there is stuff every day of the week.

  • The Musicians Union should, seriously, see what they can do. (Also for churches, but maybe that’s a weaker case.)

    • I was going to ask how much even unionized musicians make. I mean, even Equity actors presumably can’t live on what they earn.

    • efgoldman

      The Musicians Union should, seriously, see what they can do.

      Nothing. Even union musicians can and do take non-union gigs.

  • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

    I’m sure the owners will do the right thing and fire this disloyal miscreant for publically grieving over the generous crumbs they deign to give him.

    • scott_theotherone

      That was absolutely my first thought as well.

  • Phil Perspective

    Not even close evidently. Call me a filthy communist if you will, but I think the Red Sox organist should be able to pay his bills on his salary.

    LOL!! No one is going to confuse you with a Communist, or even a leftist, except for confused right-wingers.

    • I guess to your brilliant mind, I am just a hopeless neoliberal Clinton hack, is that it?

      Hey, we are still waiting for your plan on how to elect leftists in Alabama. I look forward to you sharing it with us today.

      • Ben Murphy

        Mao’s little red book was actually ghostwritten by Bear Bryant (true fact)!

        Boom, communism is coming to Alabama, roll Tide!

        • Dennis Orphen

          The only thing that was changed was the title. It was originally The Little Houndstooth Book.

          • njorl

            It was filled with folksy witticisms about the paper tigers of LSU and the running dogs of Georgia.

      • njorl

        Menshevik!

    • Rob in CT

      If there is such a thing as peak Phil Perspective, this is it. There probably isn’t any such thing, though.

  • Dilan Esper

    My father did some public address work and was probably paid $100 a game or something.

    There’s no doubt that people who work for sports franchises are underpaid. They do it anyway because at least some of it is very fun work. But that’s no excuse for not paying proper wages. It’s especially bad for the stuff like NFL cheerleaders.

    • efgoldman

      My father did some public address work and was probably paid $100 a game or something.

      I was still in radio in 1994 when Sherm Feller, who had been the Red Sox PA announcer since, apparently before Babe Ruth pitched, died. I sent a resume and tape, have a nice rejection letter on Red Sox letterhead. At that time they were paying ~$8k/season.

  • tsam

    Oof–I hope he doesn’t lose his job over this. Organizations like that don’t really like people revealing their dirty side.

  • This crap will continue until people start boycotting all sporting events, & stop wasting time, energy, money & column inches on inane blather about sports, & all teams become public whatevers like the Packers, instead of the playthings of the filthy rich.

    Can you wean yourselves of this sad addiction?

    21st century opiate of the fucking masses, w/ three services on Sunday.

    • dave

      I will never understand comments like this.

      Why don’t you tell us about your hobbies and interests so we can let you know how you too are ruining society with your triviality and complacency.

      • Davis

        Hey, he’s just giving us some tough love! After I quit my 60-year addiction to baseball, I’ll stop going to the movies, too.

        Calling the addiction “sad” adds just the right note of condescension.

        • I gave up attending the cinema some time ago, even before the rise of the giant hi-def telebsion. Why would you bother?

          • Lost Left Coaster

            My goodness, if the only way to be pure is to eschew all entertainment and sports, forget about it. Call me contaminated.

      • Not at all a question of my hobbies or interests.

        You all bitch & moan (rightfully) about owners*, but your viewing of sports, purchasing of sports-advertised products, fandom, statistics swapping (Doesn’t the ol’ Law of Averages re-start every time a pitch is thrown or a play run, rendering stats pretty much bullshit?) gambling (N.C.A.A. Championship pools to serious life-affecting degeneracy) & generally giving a crap about sports does nothing but enable (& enrich) the owners.

        Devote this time & energy to energizing voters in mid-yr. elections or some other noble liberal goal if you actually give a shit.

        P.S.: Will nonetheless be watching both games of today’s Dodgers-Rockies doubleheader (rain out in Denver last night) so I s’pose I’m just as big a hypocrite as the rest of you fans.

        *You ever notice that in most (all?) other capitalist enterprises they’re called bosses? Why are these people still called “owners”, 40+ yrs. after the reserve clause went into the dustbin of history? (Note also that the literal translation of “overseer” is “supervisor”. Slavery is not dead.)

        • efgoldman

          Why are these people still called “owners”

          Because they own the franchise, not the players. The franchise then negotiates contracts w/the players.
          Even in the old days, when they “bought” and “sold” players (Babe Ruth to the Yankees) what the bought and sold (and traded) were the players’ contracts.

        • Will nonetheless be watching both games of today’s Dodgers-Rockies doubleheader (rain out in Denver last night) so I s’pose I’m just as big a hypocrite as the rest of you fans.

          Self-righteously sneering at people for doing something you’re also doing makes you a much bigger hypocrite, and an asshole.

    • TroubleMaker13

      Better start boycotting recorded music too because the recording industry makes these guys look like pikers.

      • Can’t even remember the last music purchase I made. As many as 15 yrs. ago, when I had an employee discount (& a job) I’d guess.

        I’ll also note that I once heard Frank Zappa bitching about even having to pay union scale for rehearsals, & being almost personally offended that some players were asking for triple-scale.

        • FG Superman

          iirc, the original Mothers of Invention broke up in the late 60s largely due to wage issues. I love Zappa, but he didn’t treat his bands well money wise.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Not only do they work cheap, they can be convenient punching bags on occasion.

    The Cubs got a lot of criticism when they signed Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees, because he’d been suspended for 30 games for domestic violence that involved a firearm. When the Wrigley Field DJ played a song called something like “Beat My Bitch Up” after an appearance by him, the DJ was fired. Guess the $10 an hour schmuck is easier to get rid of than the closer with the 100 mph fastball.

    • dave

      Reminds me of the Bob Ryan/Jason Kidd kerfuffle. Making reference to abuse is punished worse than abuse itself.

  • randy khan

    Some perspective on whether you could make a living as a baseball organist:

    Even for standing gigs, it’s normal for musicians to be paid by the performance, not on contract. I don’t know specifically what the union scale is in Boston, but from a quick look around the Internet, it seems like $150 for a 4-hour gig would be somewhere in the right range (note that I avoided saying “ballpark”).

    $150 times 81 dates is $12,150, but even if it were $250, it still would be around $20K.

    And, typically, the gig rates do not include individual rehearsal time or other prep time outside the event. (If you’re in an orchestra, you generally do get paid for rehearsals of the whole group.)

    Take it for what it’s worth.

  • At least in baseball they have guaranteed contracts.

  • Probably won’t be hearing organists at the ballpark much longer anyway.

    Other Local Action: Rams ripping off taxpayers with free LAPD security?

  • milton

    he is probably making less than the beer or hot dog guys. isn’t the obvious solution for the red sox to make it possible for some of the 30,000+ fans who hear him every night to voluntarily tip him? that wouldn’t even cut into their juicy revenues. (i’m not necessarily in favor of tipping as a solution to other wage problems, but here it seems totally appropriate.)

  • FG Superman

    Hmmm.

    I thought the rhetoric went that “minimum wage” was only for people doing “low skill” grunt work, like “flipping burgers” (and having no way to pay for potential skin graft surgery if and when the industrial deep fryer malfunctions and scalds them); that it was “entry level” pay and that one could possibly earn a higher hourly wage with experience?

    This guy has been working for the Red Sox for 13+ years and he’s still earning minimum wage for a job that he excels at, even if it isn’t “full time” and the only raise he’s gotten has been due to state minimum wage increases.

  • 4jkb4ia

    The organist should be paid extra because of what I have just named the Kohen Gadol rule. He is an appurtenance of the ballpark like the Green Monster or the hand-operated scoreboard which helps to convince people that what they are seeing is a living tradition.

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