Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Plight of the Pre-1980, Non Vested, Pensionless Ballplayers

Image from wallethub
Guest opinion post from "Pensacola"
Both graduated Wilson High School. Both are natives of Middletown. Both played for the Detroit Tigers. Yet former shortstop Mark DeJohn gets an MLB pension but retired pitcher Bill Denehy does not.

The 63-year-old DeJohn only got into 24 games for the Tigers in 1982. Two of his four career hits were doubles. He scored one run and came to the plate 21 times.

DeJohn later managed minor league teams in the St. Louis Cardinals organization for 16 years, He also was a major league bullpen and bench coach for the Cardinals from 1996-1999 and 2000-2001, respectively.

Why he is more deserving of a pension than the 70-year-old Denehy, who was famously traded by the Mets to the then-Washington Senators, along with $100,000, for manager Gil Hodges?

 Denehy, who appeared in a total of 49 games over parts of three seasons (1967, 1968 and 1971) had a career won-loss record of 1-10. In 104 two-third innings, he made nine starts, had one save, and an Earned Run Average of 4.56.

 Denehy and 800 other men do not get pensions because they didn’t accrue four years of service credit. That was what ballplayers who played between 1947 - 1980 needed to be eligible for the pension plan.

Instead, they all receive nonqualified life annuities based on a complicated formula that had to have been calculated by an actuary.

In brief, for every quarter of service a man had accrued, he’d get $625. Four quarters (one year) totaled $2,500. Sixteen quarters (four years) amounts to the maximum, $10,000. And that payment is before taxes were taken out.

When the player dies, the payment is not permitted to be passed on to a designated beneficiary, like a spouse or other loved one. And the player is not covered under the MLB's health care umbrella coverage plan, either.

By contrast, a player who played AFTER 1980 is eligible for health coverage after one game day. And he's eligible for a pension after 43 game days. And the payment can be passed on to a loved one or designated recipient.

The maximum allowable under the IRS is $210,000. Meanwhile, for his 3 1/2 years of service credit, former Yankee Rich Hinton receives a gross check of $8,750. After taxes are taken out, his net check is $6,262.

Now a resident of Orlando, Florida, Mr. Denehy, who alleges that league physicians gave him 37 cortisone injections that left him nearly totally blind, can be contacted at (407) 351-2811.  He was one of the co-lead plaintiffs in a much publicized class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball that was ultimately won by the league.

These men are all being penalized for playing in the majors at the wrong time.
Douglas J. Gladstone, Author
"A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve"
(Word Association Publishers, 2010)

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