March 26, 2017

Metaphorically Speaking, The MLBPAA Has No Meat On Its Bones

January 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rocky Krsnich

If you’ve ever gone to Overland Park, Kansas, you know that Jack Stack, on Metcalf Avenue, is probably one of the finest barbecue restaurants in the country. The barbecue they serve is so tender, the meat just falls right off the bones. The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, out in Colorado, is nothing like that great barbecue place. That’s because, metaphorically speaking, the MLBPAA has no meat on its bones. Name one thing of substance that the association does?

Oh sure, they put on youth baseball clinics and they have golf outings. And they’re always putting the arm on their members to write a check to support their programs. But what programs are those exactly?

Do they offer any transitional services, such as helping former baseball players find jobs after their careers in “The Show” are over?

Nope.

Do they offer any social welfare programs?

Nope.

And they damn sure don’t advocate on behalf of retired Major League Baseball players without pensions. Remember, an association is defined as a group of people who have a common purpose or interest. So why isn’t the MLBPAA interested in helping all those pre-1980, non-vested players who are without pensions? Does it interfere with their tee off times?

Who doesn’t receive a pension from MLB you’re wondering? Well, there’s men like 90-year-old Rocco “Rocky” Krsnich, of Overland Park. In parts of three seasons playing for the Chicago White Sox, in 1949, 1952 and 1953, the former third baseman played in 120 games, had 275 plate appearances and recorded 59 hits, including 18 doubles, three triples and three home runs. He scored 27 runs, drove in 38 and walked 30 times.

Meanwhile, 42-year-old Oconomowoc, Wisconsin native  and former Toronto Blue Jay outfielder Andy Thompson does receive an MLB pension. Thompson appeared in only two games in 2000, came to the plate just six times and collected one hit. He scored twice and walked three times.

Now does that sound right to you?

See, the rules for receiving MLB pensions changed in 1980. Krsnich and other men do not get pensions because they didn’t accrue four years of service credit. That was what ballplayers who played between 1947-1979 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. But the agreement wasn’t made retroactive. So while that’s great for a guy like Thompson, it obviously bites for a nonagenarian like Krsnich. By the way, Krsnich’s kid brother, Mike, also played at the major league level, for the Milwaukee Braves, in 1960 and 1962.

He died in Mesquite, Nevada on April 30, 2011—just 19 days after the league and the players union decided to throw men like Krsnich that bone. I wonder if Mike Krsnich ever got that payment. I’d ask Dan Foster, the executive director of the MLBPAA who once worked for MLB Advanced Media, but we’re not exactly on speaking terms these days.

See I took Dan to task for his lack of advocating on behalf of the pre-1980 players in my 2010 book, A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve. So what did Dan do?  He fired my friends, the former pitchers Gary Neibauer and David Clyde, who were on a pensions committee the association had put together, because they dared to speak to me while I was writing my book.

One guy who does speak to Danny these days is former Seattle Pilot and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Dick Baney. According to Dick, Danny told him that, ever since that April 2011 agreement, 72 men have been dying each year. That’s 360 men, by my count. So maybe, if I’m doing the math correctly, there’s only 450 of these pre-1980 players left, Rocco Krsnich included.

But is Danny doing anything to help these remaining guys? Nope.

Tell Danny that the cocktail party is over, and that it’s time to help these men once and for all.  He can be contacted by email at dan@mlbpaa.com, or by phone at 719-477-1870, extension 112.

I mean, don’t you think it’s about time the MLBPAA puts some meat on its bones once and for all?

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