continued Gladstone said that the bulk of the 847 former major leaguers will not receive $10,000. “The average player in this class has an average of two-and-a-half years of service, but they’re probably going to receive only about $3,000 to $4,000 a year for the next two years and that doesn’t include health insurance,” he said. “On the other hand, players from 1980 on who have had more than 43 days of service are automatically vested in the [MLB] pension plan.”
Gladstone said he learned about MLB’s plan two days before the April 21 announcement in New York City. Soon after, he was fielding calls from national media outlets looking to get his reaction, as well as from players from that class – including players who he hadn’t profiled but who had read his book and wanted to share their stories.
“They came out of the woodwork,” said Gladstone. “The irony is if I ever do a sequel to the book, I’d title it, ‘A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Extra Innings,’ because of all the stories I collected after the announcement was made.”
One such story is of former major league catcher George Yankowski. He played six games with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1942, then went to serve in the United States military during World War II. Upon his return, he worked his way back into the majors with the Chicago White Sox, where he played 12 games in 1949.
“He fought the ‘Battle of the Bulge.’ He was signed by Connie Mack himself back when he was with Philadelphia,” said Gladstone. “And he’s not getting any money [from MLB] at all. He’s just living on a teacher’s pension.”
As part of the announcement made April 21, MLB stated that it will discuss including Yankowski and the other former players with less than four years of service in the league’s pension and health care plans when collective bargaining agreement negotiations start. The current CBA expires in December.