Though he didn’t pitch in the 1969 postseason, DiLauro appeared in 23 games that year for the Mets, who later awarded him a World Series ring. However, according to one former ‘69 teammate, DiLauro sold that ring due to economic circumstances.
DiLauro is one of 609 former Major League Baseball players not receiving an MLB pension. Others include former Mets George Theodore, Bill Denehy and Patchogue native Hank Webb. None receives a pension because the rules changed in 1980. At the time, players needed to accrue four years of service to be eligible for a pension; since then, post-1980 players like Scherzer only need 43 game days of service on an active list to get a pension.
All a pre-1980 player gets is a yearly payment of up to $10,000 for every 43 game days he’s accrued on an active MLB list. Technically, it’s a non-qualified retirement annuity. for example, Denehy gets $3,600 for his two years of service after taxes.
What’s more, the payment cannot be passed to a surviving spouse. By comparison, a post-1980 player’s designated beneficiary gets to keep his assistance.
What makes this unseemly is that the average salary in the game is $3.7 million, the last man on the bench makes $575,500 and each of the 30 clubs is reportedly valued at an average of $1.9 billion.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, is loath to help men such as DiLauro. already though he inked four free-agent deals himself, Clark has never lifted a finger to help these retirees, many of whom have gone bankrupt, had edges foreclose on their homes and are so poor they cannot provide health care coverage.
Just increase the bone thrown these men to $10,000 a year. Are MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Clark suggesting they can’t provide to pay these men more than they get?
Since he is on the union’s executive committee, I’m imploring Scherzer to do right by these men. After all, if it weren’t for the old-timers who came before Scherzer, who walked the picket lines, endured labor stoppages and went without paychecks so free agency could occur in the first place, do you think Mets fans would be as stoked as they are now that a future Hall of Fame pitcher decided to take his free-agent talents to Citi Field?
This guest essay reflects the views of Douglas J. Gladstone, author of “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve.”
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