Team Fees Due Now. No words in the English Language strike more dread in the heart of the Adult Baseball Manager.
They dread chasing down grown men and begging them to pay for their summer hobby. Our particular hobby, at about $300 per player, is a relatively inexpensive one when when you consider a season includes 20+ games spanning four months. The idea is, the sum of the individual contributions from the players add up to complete the team’s total entry fee.
The good news is, this is a one time a season thing. Once your team is paid up, the NTABL never asks for another dime (except for a charity fund raiser, but that is different). You won’t have to pass the hat at the field to pay for umpires. You won’t have to run to Dick’s Sporting Goods before your game to buy baseballs. You won’t be met at the field by someone telling you the league owes them money and if you want to play today, you need to cough up some cash. These are all things that happened last year in other leagues. Really.
In the NTABL, you can rest assured that every penny of your money goes toward the betterment of your league. Nobody is making money at the NTABL. We are volunteer run, and we all have day jobs to support our families, just like you. It sounds cliche, but running our league is truly a labor of love for the game. As an IRS 501(c)3 enterprise, we are required to do things by the book, which means accountability to everyone, especially the IRS. (OK, honestly, the IRS thing is a little intimidating to us in Admin, but everything is cool as long as everyone pulls their weight, gets their money in and we don’t come up short. ) Every day we check our email, PO Box and voice mail, hoping some mysterious benefactor will step up and fund the league for the year. Sadly, no such communications have come unless you count the recently deposed Nigerian Finance Minister, but he is evidently having cash flow problems. It looks like we’ll have to self-fund our league again this year.
Over the years we have taken steps to make paying your team fees as painless as possible. Back in the day, managers had to physically find the player and collect cash. Managers would try to collect team fees at preseason practices, but baseball players never seemed to have their wallets with them. The players would say “Coach, pockets in baseball pants are for keeping batting gloves and sunflower seeds, not wallets!” So, as the Team Fee Deadline approached and the manager feared his team would not have enough money to cover their league entry fee, he would drive to home, places of employment, seedy bars or wherever he thought he could catch his unpaid players to collect cash.
Side note: In those days, no manager ever willingly took a check. Baseball is full of unwritten rules and chief among them is “don’t take checks from your players for your team fees”. The very first manager ever – I believe it was Abner Doubleday – learned the hard way never to take a check from a baseball player. It’s not that all ball players write bad checks, but if you collect fifteen checks from ball players, one of them is going to be a heater. For those that don’t know, in those early days, your manager had to present a cashier’s check to the league for the team’s complete entry fee. (The league already knew about the “no personal checks” rule.)
As time rolled on and technology advanced, online credit card payments became possible. This was supposed to be a great time saver and make things easier for everyone, especially the manager. Indeed, a player could go to the league website and pay their portion of their team’s entry fee. This freed up the manager from driving to the player’s home or place of employment, but he still had to somehow actually convince all of his players to perform the task. With the new technology came a slew of new excuses. The excuses ranged from technical – “The website sucks.” to the ridiculous “I’m in New York City right now and can’t get internet access.” (sent by email). Further adding to the frustration, some players were not so quick to embrace the new technology. They told the manager (through Facebook Messenger) “I don’t do internet” or “I don’t have a credit card” and for some reason, were unable to think of any other possible way to pay their portion of the team’s entry fee. Cash is still, and always has been, a perfectly acceptable form of payment. See your manager.
To be fair, on any given team about half the players pay with no delay at all. The remaining players will usually pay with a little good-natured prodding, but there is always one or two guys who just…will…not…pay. In some instances, it is possible these players truly do not have the money. Maybe they just got laid off from their job or their wife just had a baby. These things happen in life and – if you are a grownup – you deal with them and move along. Hopefully the player’s situation changes soon and he can pick up next season. Nobody wants to admit something like that, but it takes a bigger man to come clean than to keep stringing everyone along. In those cases, a simple up front “Sorry Coach, I can’t afford it right now.” would save everyone involved a lot of time, money, energy and frustration.
In the NTABL, before you signed up, you were shown (and hopefully read) this disclaimer: “League fees are on a “per-team” basis and are divided equally by the number of players on the roster which is set by the manager. Fees should be approximately $300-$325 per player depending on roster size for the entire season. Your fees include fields, lights, umpires, game balls, team scorebook, MSBL National annual Membership, liability and secondary medical insurance, email game notifications and text messaging for rain outs. Personal equipment and uniforms are the responsibility of the individual player.”
That is pretty straightforward. The manager decides the roster size, which decides your portion of the team fee. Regardless of the team size, the entire league fee for the team must be paid.
The league is frequently asked if a particular player or team can “pay it out”. The answer is “Sorry, no.” You have many options when it comes to paying your team fees; The most common is to simply put it on your credit card. Even at the ridiculous interest rate the credit card companies charge, if you make monthly installments (as you imply you would) you would likely only incur about $25-30 of interest charges over the three months. PayPal Credit has an offer that lets you apply and get approved instantly. Purchases over $99 can be interest free if paid back within six months. Note: The NTABL is not affiliated with PayPal and is not necessarily recommending this products, but if you are disciplined with your money, it is an option.
Again, the good news is this is only one time per season. We just checked again and no mysterious benefactor has come forward to fund the league for 2016. Looks like we’re self funding again. Let’s get it done so we can all play ball.