Saturday, July 28, 2018
A Major League Pension Error
Baseball should do right by those who played before 1980.
June 12, 2018 7:02 p.m. ET
I will soon start receiving a pension from Major League Baseball. Yet my dad, who racked up more active-roster time in the big leagues, is ineligible for a pension. The league should change that this year.
Before 1980, a ballplayer needed four years of big-league service to be eligible for pension status. The post-1980 collective-bargaining agreement allowed eligibility for a lifelong pension after only 43 game days on a Major League roster. The current minimum benefit is $34,000 a year; the maximum is $220,000.
In the 1980s, I played parts of five seasons with the Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, accumulating 2½ years of roster status. My dad, who started the 1962 All-Star Game as a rookie pitcher for the Washington Senators, accumulated three years of roster duty. The new standards cover me, but my dad and other living ex-big leaguers from his era aren’t covered.
Photo: istock/getty images
While it isn’t standard for non-vested employees to be retroactively included in a pension system, it also isn’t unprecedented. Major League Baseball has previously extended pension status to other groups of former players. In the late 1990s the league created a pension plan for onetime Negro Leaguers and other veterans who retired before 1947—the year the pension fund was established.
Recognizing that guys like my dad had drawn the short straw, the organization and the players union agreed in 2011 to provide retirees who played between 1947 and 1979 with a “stipend” based on their roster time. Allowing for a sizable New York City income-tax bite, my dad’s stipend comes to about $5,500 a year. The gesture was welcome, but inadequate.
Consider the incongruity: A more recent retiree than my dad, who might have pitched only a handful of career innings, qualifies for a full pension and lifetime health-care coverage. That retiree’s spouse will receive his pension when he dies. When my dad, who pitched almost 400 career innings, eventually passes on, his stipend goes with him. My mother won’t receive a nickel.
Many former players from my father’s era who don’t have pensions have suffered bankruptcy or home foreclosure. Some are so poor they can’t afford health insurance. My parents’ personally invested retirement funds are dwindling. They are in their 80s now. What will they get by on when they reach their 90s?
This situation can only be rectified if the Players Association chooses to stand up for its own retirees. The league has enjoyed 15 consecutive years of rising revenue, thanks to skyrocketing income from the sale of digital and television media rights. Last year Major League Baseball pulled in more than $10 billion for the first time. It’s safe to say the national pastime is in good financial shape.
It’s getting late in the game for this dwindling cohort of retirees, who gave the best years of their lives to the game we all love. They only want the pension they feel they have earned. Baseball can afford to be generous to them.
Mr. Stenhouse was a Major League Baseball player from 1982-86 and is CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.
Appeared in the June 13, 2018, print edition.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
Things You Probably Never Knew About the Yankees
The franchise is right up there as one of the most famous in sports. Probably more books and articles have been written about it than any other baseball team. Yet, there is always something new to learn about the Bronx Bombers so read on.
A reference with the name "Yankees” first appeared in print in the Boston Herald in 1904. It referred to the American League baseball team in New York City. Sportswriters Sam Crane of the New York Journal and Mark Roth of the New York Globe, are credited with first using the name "Yankees" in their writing about the team.
The iconic “bat in the hat” logo was introduced in 1947. It has been the Yankees' primary logo ever since. The artwork was originally credited to Henry Alonzo Keller, a sports illustrator who worked in New York. However, the New York Times in 2009 that the logo could have other origins.
According to the family of Sam Friedman, an artist who worked at the “21” club in the 1940s and ’50s, it was their ancestor who sketched the logo onto a bar napkin for Dan Topping, a regular “21” patron. The Yankee owner allegedly immediately decided that would be the new logo for his team. That Yankee logo is the oldest still in use in the major leagues.
Negro League teams who played at the Stadium when the Yankees were on the road were not allowed to use their dressing rooms. Instead they were obliged to use the visitors’ dressing room.
Pitcher Herb Pennock was born to a wealthy Pennsylvania family and graduated from elite prep schools. was raised in an orphanage. Pennock was refined, dignified, sophisticated. The great Ruth was the opposite of Pennock. Nevertheless, they were friends for almost three decades. The friendship began when both were young lefty hurlers for the in and 1930s.
The official fight song for the Yankees "" was written in 1967 by Bob Bundin and Lou Stallman. Not used as too often now at Yankee Stadium, it is still frequently played in instrumental form, most times in radio broadcasts.
The first monument honoring a Yankee legend was created in 1932 for Miller Huggins. Monuments and plaques were located in centerfield in front of the fence as part of the playing field about 450 feet or so from home plate. Outfielders always had to be wary running back for long fly balls. At one time ticket holders exited through the centerfield gates viewing monuments on their way out of the Stadium. The monuments were on the field, in front of the fence. Starting in 1976, the monuments and plaques were behind the fence in Monument Park.
Created by owner Larry MacPhail, YANK Newsletter was first published in 1946 and had a long run. It was published about 6 times a year. Its final season was 1967 when it was published in a newspaper format.
Travel by Airplane
In 1946, the Yankees became the first team to regularly travel by airplane. The team leased a United Airlines plane nicknamed the "Yankee Mainliner.” Despite the advantages of flying, four players, including Red Ruffing, still chose to take the train.
The Yankees are one of four teams today lacking a mascot. From 1982 until 1985, the team mascot was Dandy, a pinstriped bird. That did not work out.
Before becoming a Yankee, Hideki Matsui recorded the second-longest consecutive games played streak in Japanese baseball history - 1,250 straight games.
George Steinbrenner liked to dine at Elaine's on Second Avenue in Manhattan. With his team at home, he would often partake of an early supper.
One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.
A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.
Material in this article was adapted from his THE ULTIMATE YAKEE BOOK. https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Yankee-Book-Beginning-Today_Essential/dp/1624144330
Friday, July 13, 2018
Here is an updated schedule of presentations and book signings later this month for BABE RUTH – A Superstar’s Legacy. There are events coming up in Baltimore, Cooperstown (two events with one during Induction Weekend), Cleveland, and maybe New Jersey. Stay tuned!!!
216 Emory Street in Baltimore MD – Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum, https://baberuthmuseum.org/
– National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, NY https://baseballhall.org/node/
139 Main Street in Cooperstown, NY, book signing with Babe Ruth’s grandson Tom Stevens (INDUCTION WEEKEND) – Willis Monie Books,
6601 Lexington Avenue in Cleveland OH – Baseball Heritage Museum, http://baseballheritagemuseum.
org/event/author-jerry- amernic-babe-ruth-a- superstars-legacy/
– National Sports Collectors Convention at 1X Center in Cleveland OH (see attached)
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
IBWAA NAMES BASEBALL PROSPECTUS’ STACEY GOTSULIAS HONORARY CHAIRPERSON
Los Angeles – In celebration of its ninth anniversary Wednesday, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) is proud to announce the naming of Stacey Gotsulias, baseball writer for Baseball Prospectus, as Honorary Chairperson of the organization.
Gotsulias has written for many New York Yankees blogs over the years, and her work has been featured at FanRag Sports, ESPN.com, USA Today Online and The Hardball Times. She serves as the Editor-In-Chief at BP Bronx, a local Baseball Prospectus site, and she recently took over as the new managing editor of Locked On Yankees. She has been a weekly columnist for Baseball Prospectus’ main site since 2017, and she provided the Yankees player comments for the 2018 edition of the Baseball Prospectus Annual. A New York native, she lives in the New York City suburbs with her family and a clowder of felines.
Gotsulias, who succeeds Dayn Perry of CBS Sports as the organization’s fifth honorary chair, will announce the results of each IBWAA election via social media and generally champion the group’s efforts during a one-year term. Her successor will be named . Previous honorary chairs include ESPN.com’s Jim Caple and David Schoenfield, and Tom Hoffarth, of the Los Angeles Daily News.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden, Pedro Moura, Ken Rosenthal and Eno Sarris, The Athletic; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck, Billy-Ball.com; Chris De Luca, Chicago Sun-Times; Jon Heyman, FRSSports.com; Tyler Kepner, New York Times; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Brian Kenny, MLBN; Will Leitch, New York Magazine; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com; Tom Hoffarth and J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Tracy Ringolsby, MLB.com; David Schoenfield, ESPN.com; and Bill Arnold.
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.
For more information please visit ibwaa.com.
For more information please visit ibwaa.com.
Founding Director, IBWAA
Founding Director, IBWAA
13 Things You Probably Did Not Know About Jackie Robinson
By Harvey Frommer
With hype and hullabaloo in the air over the 2018 All Star Game and all of its sidebars, my thoughts somehow turn to Jackie Robinson, a six-time all star and my all-star of all stars. Much is known about him, but there are quite a few things that are not. For your Number 42 consciousness raising:
1 BACK OF THE BUS
July 6, 1944, Texas –Lieutenant Jack Robinson boarded a Southwestern Bus Company bus and sat next to a fellow officer’s fair-skinned wife. The bus driver thought she was white but she was an African- American. He ordered Robinson to the back of the bus. The lieutenant, whose military career had been spotless until then, refused to move. He suggested the driver concentrate on his driving.
The two men snapped at each other all the way to the next bus stop. An angry crowd of racist civilians and military police officers crowded around the bus. Robinson knew about lynching in Texas but showed no fear. One of the military policemen urged him to go to the police station with him. When they got there, another white officer ran up to the car and asked if they had “the nigger lieutenant.” Robinson told the men that he would “break in two” the next person to use that word.
Thirteen depositions were recorded stating that Robinson had behaved badly. He was court-martialed. Enlisting the support of boxing champion Joe Louis, a friend, and also contacting the Secretary of War’s Office asking for advice and help, Robinson was put on trial. He was finally acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury of officers but was banned deployment overseas to the World War II battlefronts. He never saw combat during the war.
2 FIVE PRIME YEARS LOST
Jackie Robinson did not play baseball for five prime years. From his last game for UCLA game in 1940 to his first game for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945, Robinson’s time was spent playing pro football and serving in the military.
3 BASEBALL WAS NOT HIS BEST SPORT
A tremendous all-around athlete, baseball was arguably Robinson’s fourth best sport. It was his worst one at UCLA where in his only season playing baseball, he batted .097. His throwing arm was not that strong or that accurate.
4 OLD FOR A ROOKIE
When Number 42 broke baseball’s color barrier, he was a 28-year-old rookie.
5 SHATTERING THE COLOR LINE
On April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, 26,623 fans—an estimated 14,000 of whom were black — came out for Opening Day. Attendance was 5,000 lower than the year before home opener. The Brooklyn Eagle story claimed lowered attendance was due to a smallpox scare and the suspension of manager Leo Durocher.
JONATHAN EIG: (Author of Opening Day) But everyone knew the real reason. White Brooklynites were not accustomed to being surrounded by black Brooklynites, and they were not eager to discover how it felt.
6 LARGEST SATURDAY AFTERNOON CROWD IN NL HISTORY
On April 19, Dodgers vs.Giants, Polo Grounds, boosted by a huge turnout from Harlem, 52,355 fans—the largest Saturday afternoon crowd in NL history—came to see and cheer on Jackie Robinson. He had a big day hitting, fielding, running. After the game, Jackie and Rachel had dinner near the Polo Grounds at Bowman's Café and Grill in Harlem’s . Autograph seekers, picture takers and the restaurant owner picking up the bill highlighted Jackie’s entering his age of celebrity.
7 THE LONELY MAN
After the two-games at the Polo Grounds, the Dodgers traveled to Boston. Both games with the Braves were snowed out. Robinson spent most of his time in the Kenmore Hotel room. A local baseball writer found the black pioneer sitting alone on his bed in a darkened room, “A lonely guy... it’s no fun to see a man fighting against odds that seem almost insurmountable,” the writer wrote describing the enormity of what Robinson was up against and giving insight into his life.
8 STRONG FRIENDSHIP WITH LARRY DOBY
Robinson and Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, the first African-American baseball player in the American League, were close friends.July 5, 1947 broke the league's color barrier less than three months after Robinson so he was “the second.” They spoke on the phone frequently to each other, sharing their experiences about racism during the season.
9 HELP FROM HANK GREENBERG
The Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg’s final season was Jackie Robinson’s first. A Jew, a great star, he experienced much anti-Semitism. He almost immediately befriended Robinson who benefitted from his counsel and friendship. Robinson reported that Greenberg treated him with respect and said words of support to him.
10 APOCHRYPHAL PEE WEE REESE MOMENT
There is a statue of Reese and Robinson outside the playing field of the Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island to commemorate a moment that probably never happened. At a game in Cincinnati after hearing racial slurs hurled at Robinson, the Southern born Reese allegedly put his arm around Robinson in a show of support.
There is no mention in newspapers, and according to Newsweek no mention of it can be unearthed. Ken Burns, creator of the documentary on Robinson, calls the moment “mythology. Rachel Robinson was opposed to that statue and suggested that another moment be found.
11 ONE OF FIRST BLACK LEADING MEN IN THE MOVIES
Playing himself in the 1950 film, The Jackie Robinson Story, Number 42 became one of the big screen’s first black leading men. A low-budget effort, the movie was a good performer at the box office. Robinson garnered positive reviews for his acting and gained even more national exposure.
12 USING A PUBLIC OCCASION TO PUSH PRIVATE AGENDA,
Invited to attend the second game of the 1972 World Series and throw out the ceremonial first pitch, the 53-year-old Robinson at first rejected then accepted provided he would be able to speak.
He was not happy with MLB’s efforts to back hiring of black managers.
“As long as they keep digging down and hiring guys who have already failed in one city, I’m not encouraged,” Robinson told the Baltimore Afro-American
Told he would be able to speak, Robinson relented and used the opportunity and wide forum to push his agenda to see one day “see a black face managing in baseball.”
13 STRONG FREINDSHIP WITH MARTIN LUTHER KING
The extraordinary duo were fast friends, communicated with each other often and had great respect for each other. The same was not true for Malcom X who Robinson did not respect.
One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan,Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer, a professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.
His Ultimate Yankee Book has been called by critics “the Ultimate Baseball Book.” http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html