In announcing the dispersal of $1 million among some 1,300 part-time and seasonal workers at Fenway Park affected by the coronavirus shutdown, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy emphasized in an internal memo that the financial aid is intended to assist a “hardworking, dedicated group (that) is the backbone of our operation and help us bring joy to millions.”
The Red Sox announced the $1 million commitment in conjunction with Major League Baseball saying that the 29 other teams would dedicate a similar amount to employees who will be affected in an industry that is shut down at least through the end of May.
“We realize that closing our ballpark has a significant impact on many people,” read Kennedy’s memo. “On behalf of [team owners] John [Henry], Tom [Werner], Mike [Gordon], and the entire Fenway Sports Group partnership, we are announcing a commitment of $1 million to aid Red Sox part-time and seasonal ballpark workers whose jobs do not allow them to work remotely during this time."
The average financial aid check would amount to nearly $770 per seasonal employee, but the club will determine the final amounts.
"We will be working hard to determine how best to allocate this money across this workforce in an appropriate and fair way as soon as possible," read the memo. "Employees eligible for this commitment should expect to hear from their supervisors in the coming days with more information when that has been determined. We recognize this funding in no way completely mitigates the full impact of what we are experiencing, but we hope that it will provide some measure of help and relief during this challenging period.”
The club said it is “actively exploring other vehicles” that could provide further assistance if members of its franchise and ballpark family “endure substantial hardship due to the spread” of the coronavirus.
“John, Tom, and Mike have always said that the Red Sox are a family – that means Rafael Devers and Chris Sale, but it also means you, and the men and women that support our business operations and provide our fans at Fenway with experiences that last a lifetime,” Kennedy said. “We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Please know that we are always here as a resource and look forward to having our family back together again.”
Henry also owns the Boston Globe.
Each of the 30 MLB clubs is making the $1 million commitment out of a “desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist the thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay in the start of the Major League Baseball season,” Manfred said. “Motivated by desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each Club has committed $1 million.
”The individual clubs will be announcing more details surrounding this support effort in their local communities.
"The timing of the announcements will vary because of the need to coordinate with state and local laws as well as collective bargaining obligations in an effort to maximize the benefits realized by each group of employees. I am proud that our clubs came together so quickly and uniformly to support these individuals who provide so much to the game we love.”
Kennedy’s memo addressed the extraordinary circumstances.
“We are living through an unprecedented time, not just here in Boston, but around the world,” said Kennedy. “Major League Baseball’s suspension of the season has left all of us uncertain about what the future holds. Temporarily closing Fenway Park was a difficult but necessary measure. It was not a decision we took lightly, but we know it was the right one for our staff and the public.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com.