Sanders condemned Major League Baseball for eliminating 40 of its affiliated minor league teams, including Burlington’s Vermont Lake Monsters. MLB cut the teams in February, the culmination of a plan it had unveiled in 2019.
The senator previously characterized the decision as being “about greed.” NPR asked what he thought about the league’s argument that the minor leagues have become an “inefficient” way to develop athletic talent.
“Look, I am not a baseball expert, so I don’t know how you develop talent,” Sanders replied. “But this is what I do know, is you go to a minor league game and kids get their hotdogs, and the ballplayers are often very nice and they’ll sign autographs and kids, you get good seats for a couple of bucks.”
Minor league baseball is “enormously important to dozens and dozens and dozens of communities,” he said, calling it “a beautiful thing.”
He added, “Baseball is not just, you know, paying $50 million for some great athlete, you know, who plays for the New York Yankees.”
In November 2019, Sanders was among more than 100 members of Congress who signed a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, urging the league not to go through with its proposal to cut teams. Sanders also sent his own letter to Manfred, and met with him personally in an attempt to save the teams.
“Some 30 years ago, I helped bring minor league baseball — it was a double-A team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds — to Vermont,” Sanders told the Los Angeles Times in a 2019 interview. “What I saw with my own eyes is what minor league baseball does to a community.”