December 16, 2017

Brooks Robinson Is Only A Hall of Famer on the Playing Field

September 30, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

I know it’s practically sacrilegious to write this, but Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson is a terrible advocate for retirees.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve met Brooks Robinson. He signed an Orioles cap for my father-in-law. He was arguably the greatest third baseman the game has ever known. But as the president of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA), the Colorado Springs-based group that is supposed to advocate on behalf of baseball’s alumni, he’s been an abysmal failure. See, there are 500 retired baseball players who aren’t receiving pensions from Major League Baseball (MLB).

Sound familiar?  The Baltimore Sun was kind enough to recently publish an Op-Ed I wrote about this situation.  A number of former Orioles, including Jim Fuller, William Howard Dillman and David Kent Vineyard, are all impacted by this. For those of you who might be surprised by this, don’t be. It’s baseball’s dirty little secret. And you’re not reading about it because most sports columnists and sports writers don’t want their access to players or management restricted. So they don’t take the league or the union representing the current players, the Major League Baseball Players Association,  to task. They’ve chosen to look the other way.

I haven’t. I’ve chosen to try to help these men. As for the MLBPAA, they’re not helping one bit. See, the MLBPAA is great at raising monies. They’re great at staging golf outings. They’re positively wonderful at holding youth clinics. And that’s commendable. The youth of our country are our future. We should always try to do right by them.. But let’s have a little healthy respect for the men who grew the game too. Guys like Gene Hiser, an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs who played during parts of the 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons.

Born in Baltimore, he attended Towson High School, in Towson Maryland, as well as the University of Maryland. Mr. Hiser turns 69 in December. Mr. Hiser appeared in 206 games during his career, came up to the plate 263 times, collected 53 hits, including seven doubles and one homerun, scored 34 runs and knocked in 18. Sure, those aren’t All-Star or Hall of Fame numbers, but he did endure labor stoppages, walk the picket lines and go without paychecks so free agency could be ushered in.

The same free agency that the Orioles’ Manny Machado is likely to avail himself of this off season. And you know what?  I hope he scores a huge contract for himself. And then remember to thank guys like Hiser. But back to Mr. Robinson. Another retired player affected by this situation is Panama City, Panama’s Dave Roberts. No, not the current Los Angeles Dodgers manager. This Mister Roberts played for the Houston Colt 45s in 1962 and 1964 then played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966.  Overall, in 91 career games, he came to the plate 194 times and collected 38 hits, including eight doubles, one triple and two home runs. He scored 15 runs and drove in an additional 17.

Now 84-years-old, Roberts was reportedly a teammate of guess who — Brooks Robinson — in Double A ball when he was a member of the Orioles organization playing for the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League in 1955.  Due to the color of his skin, he saw his fair share of discrimination. According to a published account. Roberts was demoted to Single A ball in 1957 when another Texas League team refused to play against any team with black players.

Mr. Robinson, I bet you had no problem supporting your then teammate Roberts 60 years ago. Support him now. Be a Hall of Famer off the field as well as on the field.

Comments

2 Responses to “Brooks Robinson Is Only A Hall of Famer on the Playing Field”
  1. Fred Taylor says:

    Why should somebody get a pension from baseball just because he spent a few years in the majors???These guys had social security deducted from their pay and they get social security. If I work a few years somewhere I sure as hell don’t get a pension from that employer. Why should jocks get preferential treatment????

  2. Dale Downes says:

    What is the eligibility criteria for the pension?

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