April 21, 2021

Lots of Dollars But No Sense

November 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Guess how much each member of the Boston Red Sox who was voted a full playoff share for winning the World Series is getting?

Over $416,800.

Not bad.

Here’s what is bad: at a time when our national pastime is doing financially well, when each team is valued at more than $1.52 billion – that’s up 19 percent from 2016 — there are 641 retirees who don’t receive pensions from having played Major League Baseball (MLB).

Former Watertown High School baseball coach George Yankowski, a decorated 96-year-old war hero who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, is one of these men. He collects just enough from his playing days with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox to pay for sorely needed dental work.

While vested men get up to $220,000, all these non-vested men get is $625 for every 43 game days of service they were on an active MLB roster.

Red Sox fans probably remember pitcher Steve Barr. He’s one of the affected men. So is former utility player Carmen Fanzone.

There’s another 200 men still living who don’t even get that princely payment. Because they didn’t accrue enough service time, they don’t even get a plug nickel. Roy Gleason who the Los Angeles Dodgers trotted out before Game 2 of the World Series last year, is one of these men.

By the way, he’s the only Purple Heart winner ever to have played in “The Show.”

But does Commissioner Rob Manfred care?  Of course not. The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball’s Political Action Committee is too busy making $5,000 donations to Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican candidate running for United States Senate in Mississippi. It doesn’t matter if Manfred later requested it back upon learning that the candidate was reported to have said – she claims jokingly – that she supports “public hangings.”Commissioner Manfred is also very busy negotiating new media rights deals. Earlier this month, it was widely reported that MLB and Fox Sports extended their national television rights agreement through the 2028 season. The seven year deal was for $5.1 billion – a significant increase from the $4.2 billion deal with the network that expires after the 2021 season.

MLB also struck a new three year deal for a reported $300 million with DAZN, an international sports streaming service that begins with the 2019 season. This is on top of the $2.6 billion deal it has with Turner Sports and the $5.6 billion deal it has with ESPN.

And hey. let’s not forget the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) either. Fueled by its license agreements with brands such as Topps and VF Knitwear, the union grew its asset base a remarkable 27 percent from 2015 to 2016.  License fees were up to a staggering $51.2 million, an increase of 16 percent, for this period.

Heck, according to a recent Internal Revenue Service filing, there are 72 union staff members who are making compensation totaling $16 million. Not surprisingly, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark tops the list, at $2.1 million. And that is on top of his MLB pension.

The average salary these day is $4.4 million. The minimum salary goes up to $555,000 next season.

All George Yankowski ever did was defend the liberties and freedoms we hold dear.

Maybe it’s time he starts receiving more from the sport too?

A freelance magazine writer, Douglas J. Gladstone authored the 2010 book, “A Bitter Cup of Coffee.” An updated version is due out in early 2019.


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