Retired Players React to MLB’s New Pension Deal

From SABR member Nick Diunte at on April 22:

The cups of coffee for many retired players just got a bit sweeter: Major League Baseball announced Thursday in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association an agreement to make annual payments to retired players who played before 1980 that did not have enough service time to qualify for a pension benefit.

Since the 1980 season, all Major League players have vested as members of the benefit plan after just one day of service in the Major Leagues. Prior to 1980, players secured a pension benefit only after completing at least four years of Major League service. While these payments are not truly a pension for these retirees, it is income that will go a long way for many.


Alumni from the New York area teams that fell into this “pension gap” were pleased to hear that they will finally be compensated for their years of service. Former New York Yankee pitcher Johnny James, who pitched from 1958-1961, was excited to hear the news. “About two months ago, Eli Grba had sent me an article from the Chicago papers that they were talking about it. It’s exciting to think about because it’s just nice,” James said from his Arizona home. “I don’t expect it to be a lot, but the fact that it is something, is very nice. I knew what the deal was when I played and the fact that I didn’t play long enough wasn’t Major League Baseball’s fault, it was mine. I will admit when I saw the article, it gave me a good feeling.”


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Originally published: April 22, 2011. Last Updated: April 22, 2011.