Hopefully, so we won’t be bombarded by more ridiculous speculation, onetime Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will soon reveal to the world where he’s going to play baseball this season.
It could be a LeBron-like prime-time press conference, for all I care. He could tell someone on live television, “Well, I’m taking my talents to…..”
I know he’s not headed to South Beach, that’s for sure.
One other thing I’m sure of is that, when agent Scott Boras and the team that eventually does ink Bryce to his mega $300 million deal, or whatever absurd amount he gets, do announce a deal, they ought to thank former Senators hurler Dave Stenhouse.
Mr. Stenhouse is is one of 640 retirees being hosed out of pensions by the league and the players’ association. All these men have been getting since 2011 are non-qualified retirement payments of $625 per quarter, up to 16 quarters, or a maximum payment of $10,000. Meanwhile, the maximum IRS pension limit is $220,000.
Stenhouse started the 1962 All-Star Game as a rookie for the then Washington Senators. In 76 career appearances for the team, 52 of which were starts, he pitched 372 innings, won 16 games, threw three shutouts, hurled 12 complete games and saved another.
That’s an impressive body of work for someone not receiving a pension.
And Stenhouse has done something that Mr. Harper has yet to do — endure a labor stoppage and go without salary so that future ballplayers could enjoy the free agency that Mr. Harper is now going to profit from.
Neither Major League Baseball (MLB) nor the union representing current players, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association ( MLBPA) want to retroactively restore these men into pension coverage; instead, taxes are taken out of the nonqualified retirement payment, which cannot be passed on to a surviving spouse or designated beneficiary. So when Stenhouse passes on, the payment he is currently receiving is not passed on to any of his loved ones. They are also not eligible to be covered under the league’s umbrella health insurance plan.
Imagine you were called up on August 15 of last year by the Nats and stayed on its roster till October 1. You never played a game, never pinch ran, never pinch hit, never was used as a defensive replacement. All you did was sit on the bench. For your 43 game days of service, because you played after 1980, you know what you’re guaranteed when you turn 62-years-old? A pension of $3,589. And that pension gets passed on to your loved ones when you die. But Mr. Stenhouse’s non-qualified monies don’t get passed on to his survivors when he passes on, in spite of the fact he was on an active roster much longer than you were.
The executive director of the MLBPA, Tony Clark, refuses to go to bat for these men. How come? Especially since the average player made $4.47 million last season. The minimum salary goes up to $555,000 in 2019.
Unions are supposed to help hard working women and men in this country get a fair shake in life. But the so-called MLBPA labor leader doesn’t seem to want to help anyone but himself — Clark receives a MLB pension AND an annual salary of more than $2.1 million, including benefits, for being the head of the union.
MLB – which doesn’t have to negotiate about this issue in collective bargaining – is also in a position to help all these men. The league recently announced that its revenue was up 325 percent from 1992, and that it has made $500 million since 2015. What’s more, the average value of each of the 30 clubs is up 19 percent from 2016, to $1.54 billion.
So Bryce, whenever you do sign, tip your new cap to Dave Stenhouse. And while you’re at it, how’s about David Clyde, Tom Bruno, George “The Stork” Theodore, Carmen Fanzone, Gene Hiser, Gary Neibauer, Bob “The Macaroni Pony” Coluccio, Hank Webb, Cuno Barragan, Jim Hutto, Jim Ollom, Aaron Pointer, Rich Hinton, Bruce Christensen, Bill Denehy, Jack DiLauro, Jimmy Driscoll, Jimmy Qualls, Bobby Pfeil and Dave Schneck, just to name a few. It’d be the right thing to do. Just like it’d be the right thing for all these guys to get more than the pittance they’re now receiving.
Douglas J. Gladstone is the author of two books, including “A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players’ Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve.” An updated version of the book is scheduled to be published later this month.