Winston-Salem wood-bat team to charge for tickets, not pay players, be called Disco Turkeys, sounds about right

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has announced that the Carolina Disco Turkeys … okay, I really just wanted to type “Carolina Disco Turkeys.” And to point out that the comprise/compose distinction has become so confusing to most people that WFMY News editors now think it’s okay to say “Most of the roster will comprise of players who have competed locally in high school and/or college,” which no, no it is not.

But anyway, the article in question also mentions some details about the Disco Turkeys — which is apparently a term for peacocks, which are native to South Asia though a few are resident to North Carolina, though not always in a good way, but anyway this is mostly a gimmick to sell team merch, which is 100% working — such as:

“Collegiate wood bat leagues offer a valuable opportunity for the top college baseball players to develop their skills over the summer,” said [Winston-Salem] Dash President, C.J. Johnson. “We are excited to provide these athletes with a first-class facility to compete in and to create 16 more opportunities for our community to enjoy affordable entertainment.”

“Offer a valuable opportunity to develop their skills” is here code for “ask to play for free”: wood-bat leagues are designed for amateur players, so nobody gets paid. (In fact, some wood-bat leagues charge players fees to play; the Carolina summer league’s policy is hard to determine, as its web presence appears to be entirely a blank Squarespace page.) This is usually portrayed as a service for players who want to retain their college amateur eligibility, though when you consider that prior to the minor-league baseball purge many of these same players would have been drafted and be earning (crappy) minor-league salaries, it sounds like less of a benefit.

That comment above, you may have noticed, is by the president of the Winston-Salem Dash, the High-A professional affiliate of the Chicago White Sox (owned by propane magnate Billy Prim), which will be renting out its stadium to the Disco Turkeys. The wood-bat team will actually be owned by a newly formed corporation called Sullimak Entertainment, which is registered to a guy named William Maki, Jr., who appears to have no internet footprint unless it’s this former Winston-Salem car salesman who now lives in Utah; the company is also registered to a 900-square-foot house, so it’s just maybe possible that someone else is behind the franchise. Whoever the owner is, getting players to play for free will not be stopping them from charging fans to watch them:

The Disco Turkeys, owned by Winston-Salem-based Sullimak Entertainment, LLC, will handle all merchandise, ticket sales and gameday operations for their events. Standard stadium concession items, including beer will be available for purchase, with the addition of a Disco Turkey Leg. Outside food and beverage is not permitted into Truist Stadium.

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8 comments on “Winston-Salem wood-bat team to charge for tickets, not pay players, be called Disco Turkeys, sounds about right

  1. Is your issue that players should be paid at every level of play? Or you object to paying anything (admission, concessions, parking, etc.) if players aren’t being compensated?

    1. My issue is that if you’re employing people to create a product that you’re charging for, that’s a job.

  2. I would guess the owner(s) might say that if you are playing for free in college AND the Carolina summer league any claim you had to professional dignity is already moot… but point taken.

    There is no practical reason why many employers couldn’t adopt the same “volunteer workforce” model. Some have tried, of course. A company I used to work for employed a bonehead manager who phrased every call out for line workers after hours as “offering them the opportunity to come to work” rather than what it was, a demand.

    He then refused to turn in their overtime pay slips on the grounds that he had invited rather than demanded they work. He lost every grievance filed on the matter (costing the company tens of thousands of dollars and significant goodwill among employees and customers, but the company continued to employ him for many years all the same.

    In reality, what the apparently non-existent owner of the Dick Jerkies is doing is attempting to make summer league baseball part of the gig economy. I hope it doesn’t work and that they can’t find players willing to play. But I doubt that will happen given the desperation of the players at or near the bottom end of the scale.

    1. I was recently introduced to the neologism “voluntold,” which I’m now sorry I didn’t employ in this post.

    2. I like your comparison to these leagues being like a gig economy. I hope the players take everything that isn’t bolted to the floor on their way out the door.

      Calling the team Disco Turkey as a blatant attempt to sell merch worked on me I’ll admit, because I looked up what their hats look like. Once I realized the business structure of the team I quickly closed the browser and burned that idea.

  3. I am surprised the WFMY editors didn’t work in a “culminated/ing” or two in the course of their adventure. It’s all the rage this year.

    As an aside, I wish it’s call sign was W-FML instead. Maybe WtFML….

  4. So I guess the performance bonuses these players may be eligible will be —–you get to keep your “job”—–during the Turkey’s season.

    Good memories of a Winston-Salem Carolina League ball game back in 1994. Team was called the ‘Spirit’ then.

    I recall the game was won by the Spirit in late heroics by 2 baseball classically named players.

    A base hit by designated hitter/slugger BUBBA SMITH to score MOTORBOAT JONES (yes, Motorboat) from first base with the winning run. Motorboat was speed on the basepaths.

  5. You’ll be pleased as a mint julep to know our young little scamps (nico”teens”) will get paid this summer working Carolina’s tobacco farms. Seems child labor is exempt from harvesting tobacco.

    So it all comes down to choice. You can play baseball in the hot Carolina summer sun in front of paying customers and not get paid. Or you can pick tobacco leaves in that same Carolina sun and get paid.

    With the latter, no need to buy a chaw of tobacco. A daily dose of tobacco / nicotine is all but guaranteed!

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