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How Do Major League Baseball Teams Travel?

Over the course of the season, MLB players face a more grueling schedule than any of their counterparts in other major sports.

After 20 or so Spring Training matchups, they play 162 regular-season games. Of course, 81 of those are on the road.

And if their team is good enough, they’re looking at up to 20 playoff matches.

So, an MLB player may take part in around 200 games over the 8-month span in cities across the continent.

This much travel inevitably takes its toll on the players.

It’s logical to wonder how do Major League Baseball teams travel to have their players ready for whatever game comes next.

How Do Major League Baseball Teams Travel?

Plane with Boston Red Sox Logo by
Anthony92931
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

At the top level of baseball, in the MLB, players can enjoy some of the most comfortable means of travel.

But, due to the condensed season, travel still can cause mental and physical exhaustion.

MLB and its franchisees do their best to have athletes in the optimal shape before as they arrive at a new city for the game.

To cut down on the time spent traveling, teams play series of two to four games with the same opponents in the row.

In addition, they usually put together homestands lasting six to ten games.

However, with 162 games in 182 days, the players don’t get a lot of rest. Commonly, MLB teams leave town almost immediately after the series is over.

Most of the time, after the last matchup of the series, players shower, shortly speak to the press, get some medical treatment if needed, and are off to the next city.

Plus, the last game takes place in the afternoon to provide even more time for players to recover.

The team’s interest is that the players get as much rest as possible. So, they use the fastest and most comfortable means of transportation – planes.

The majority of MLB franchises charter flights with major airlines which usually are among the team’s sponsors.

Most of the owners find this more cost-effective than owning their own jets.

At the moment, only two teams in the majors fly with the planes that belong to the organization.

One of them is Texas Rangers and the other is Detroit Tigers who share their aircraft with the NHL’s Red Wings.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and Players Association, among other things, defines how do MLB teams travel.

The contract states that teams have to provide first-class flight transportation. When the first class is unavailable, the next highest class is provided.

In rare cases when players for whatever reason have to fly coach, they will get three seats per two players and first-class meals.

The plane is a mandatory means of transportation whenever the travel distance is more than 200 miles.

Also, all flights must be direct, with no stops between starting point and destination. For distances below 200 miles, the teams are allowed to travel by bus.

A bus is also often used to get from one game to another during Spring Training.

How Many Players Travel with an MLB Team?

Typically, an MLB team takes its full active roster of 26 players on every road trip.

These 26 players also have to be a part of the 40-man roster which, besides active players, also includes those on the injury list, family or medical emergency list, and a couple of Minor Leaguers.

In 2020, in an effort to help teams deal with the Covid-19 crisis, MLB officially introduced taxi squads for road trips.

The taxi squad rule remained for the 2021 season with a slight change. It now includes 5 instead of 3 players.

The rule allows teams to carry additional 5 players from the alternate training site when they travel.

At least one of the players has to be a catcher.

This provides teams with a quick replacement in case one of the active players gets sidelined or tests positive for COVID-19.

Although they travel with the team, taxi squad players don’t receive any payment other than the MLB per diem amount if they don’t play.

Do MLB Players’ Wives Travel with Them?

Different MLB teams have different rules when it comes to players’ wives traveling with them.

Some franchises let wives and children pick one or two road trips during the season when they can join their husbands.

Others allow family members only on the flights home after the final road trip game.

Several teams let their players and coaches vote on allowing their spouses to join them on travels.

However, plenty of wives and girlfriends follow their husbands when they travel, but in their own arrangements.

They book separate flights and accommodation.

Do Batboys Travel with the Team?

Although they perform an important task during a game, batboys don’t follow teams on road trips.

Batboys for both home and road teams are typically from the home city and on the host’s payroll.

The batboys for the home teams have their own team uniforms and often have their name on the back.

On the other hand, the road team provides uniforms for their assigned batboy.

As they don’t know who will serve as their batboy, the road team has to pack equipment in all possible sizes.

Conclusion

Today, traveling in the MLB is much more luxurious and comfortable than in the days past or compared to the minor leagues.

However, for most MLB players, road trips are the hardest part of their job.

Team members spend an incredible amount of time on the plane and in the hotels, often separated from their families for days.

This is especially true for players on franchises in the corners of the country.

For example, Seattle Mariners are expected to travel more than 48 thousand miles in the 2021 season.

To make traveling easier on the players, MLB franchises employ teams of people whose job is to secure the most efficient and enjoyable way to travel across the country.

Every bit of energy that a player saves in traveling to the road game can be the difference between winning and losing.

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