Believe it or not, there are 618 former players being hosed out of pensions by Major League Baseball and the union representing the players, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).
Who doesn’t receive a pension from MLB you’re wondering? Well, there’s men like Donald Edward Reynolds, an Arch Cape resident who resides on East Shingle Mill Lane. If the name sounds familiar, the 67-year-old Mr. Reynolds also happens to be the older sibling of Harold Reynolds, the former lead baseball analyst for Fox Sports Television who does receive a pension from his years playing for the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and California Angels.
Born in Arkadelphia, Ark., Don Reynolds went to Corvalis High School in Corvalis. In 1970, he was a member of the high school football team that won the Oregon 3A State Championship. He later attended the University of Oregon, which inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
An outfielder who spent parts of the 1978 and 1979 seasons with the San Diego Padres, Reynolds appeared in a total of 87 career games. He came up to the plate 132 times, collected 32 hits, including three doubles and two triples, and had 16 runs batted in. He also scored 14 runs.
See, the rules for receiving MLB pensions changed in 1980. Don Reynolds 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 retirement payments based on a complicated formula that had to have been calculated by an actuary.
In brief, for every 43 game days of service a man had accrued, he’d get $625, up to the maximum of $10,000. And that payment is before taxes are taken out.
What’s more, the payment cannot be passed on to a spouse or designated beneficiary. So Reynolds’ loved ones won’t receive that payment when he dies. These men are also not eligible to be covered under the league’s umbrella health insurance plan.
They are being penalized for playing the game they loved at the wrong time.
Other persons of color impacted by this injustice include The Cleveland Indians’ Wayne Cage and Vince Colbert, the Detroit Tigers’ Les Cain, Venezuela’s Pablo Torrealba, the Chicago Cubs’ Cuno Barragan, Jorge Roque of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Astros’ Aaron Pointer — one of the two men who last hit .400 in professional baseball.
What makes this situation so utterly reprehensible is that MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark received the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Negro Leagues Museum in 2016.
But has he acted as a social justice advocate? Has he lived up to the standards set by the man who bears that award’s name? In my opinion, not by a long shot.
Donald Reynolds is seven years older than his brother, who was also lead studio analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program from 1996 to 2006. Currently the co-host of Hot Stove for MLB Network, he earned his first ever Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality - Studio Analyst in 2013.
It is believed Harold Reynolds has never publicly commented or taken a stance about whether the pre-1980 players such as his brother should get real pensions from the organization that pays his salary.
I know I’d like to find out what he thinks about this egregious injustice. And I’m sure one of the residents of East Shingle Mill Lane would like to know too.
Douglas J. Gladstone is the author of the book, “A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players’ Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve”