There are 874 pre-1980 Major League Baseball players that don't receive a pensionand Douglas Gladstone is trying to do something about it.
Gladstone works at the state but has always dappled in writing, contributing to various e-zines and seeing his words published in national newspapers. But this is the first time he's seen an entire bookall 194 pages of it"filled with his thoughts, research and what he hopes will be policy-changing revelations.
What Gladstone lays out in "A Bitter Cup of Coffee," is decades of changed retirement requirements that left many ballplayers without their just dues because the league failed to retroactively amend the vesting requirement. In 1947, a pension fund was established and players needed five years to vest, or be entitled to a pension. In 1969, that eligibility was lowered to four years and then in 1980 that was further lowered to what it is now, which is one game to receive medical benefits and 43 days of service credit. Players can sit on the bench their entire career, as long as they remain on an active roster. That means players from the early years may have met these new requirements back in the day, but still aren't eligible under the changes.
"When I heard about that and the union and league's failure, I was outraged and shocked. I thought it was a terrible injustice," said Gladstone. "I'm the type of person who likes to help people and I think the reason why this resonated with me is because I'm a baseball fan, first and foremost, but also it's gone largely unreported by mainstream media and I thought it would be a great opportunity to write a book that would shine a spotlight on the issue so people could get righteously indignant."
For nearly a year, Gladstone followed a tiresome routine: come home from work, eat as a family, put his 7-month-old daughter to bed and spend until midnight researching, calling players, union and league, and writing. He ended up with a book of profiles chronicling the struggles of at least 30 jilted players, now retired and sprinkled across the country holding any number of working class jobs.