There are dramatic differences between the major and minor baseball leagues in America. Though major league baseball and minor league baseball share the same rule book, that is about where the commonality ends. The size of the leagues, pay scales, players, venues and many other factors are worlds apart.
Not only do the two leagues share a rule book, they also have a history that begins at roughly the same time. The first National League team (eventually the current day major league equivalent) began in 1876 while the first minor league club began just seven years later in New England (the Northwest League). They also began as leagues under the same National Agreement in 1883 before the American League existed. However, immediately differences started to develop and after 20 years they were separate.
The main difference then and now is money. While both major leagues were able to employ any player with a minimum yearly contract of $1,000, the minor league was able to sign any player who made just $750 or more per season. This small difference of pay scale got greater and greater through a few developments in the early and mid-twentieth century. First, the US Government ruled that antitrust laws did not apply to the National and American Leagues, which meant they could effectively set wages in their leagues and all the way day–this set the pricing. Second, during the Korean war there was an apparent shortage of players and so development for the major league became a focus for the minor league system–this set the supply. Finally, with the onset of television coverage came greater money to the players and the players’ union which was established put the minor leaguers at the bottom of the scale if they were covered at all.
The scale of major and minor league baseball is also dramatically different. The major league has only one level for talent and thirty teams from major cities that compete. The minor league, on the other hand, has six different talent levels (from AAA down to rookie) and has 20 leagues and 246 teams, a number that changes fairly often, scattered across the country. While the major leagues play to large televised audiences, minor league clubs have more humble ballpark crowds. Many argue that this is not a bad development for the minors as fans get a close up view of their favorite players for a much better price.
The two leagues exist on a symbiotic relationship at present. Each major league team is required to have a AAA and a AA affiliate at the minimum, which they use to develop talent in a variety of ways. Out of the expanded roster of a major league ball club, 15 may be assigned to a minor league team at any point in the season to rehabilitate or to get more experience. Likewise, a minor league player may be called up to the major leagues as they become better or to fill in for an injured major league players. So, though major league baseball rules and minor league baseball rules are the same, there is much that distinguishes these two leagues in professional baseball.
As an electronic scoreboards continue to light up.