Wednesday, April 17, 2024

An important guest post from Douglas J. Gladstone, the author of “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & the Players’ Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve.”

Did you know there are 517 retired men who played Major League Baseball (MLB) who aren’t receiving MLB pensions? And one of them was a popular Philadelphia Phillies closer who was born in Danville and inducted into the J.R. Tucker H.S. Sports Hall of Fame?

A pitcher for the Phillies (1972-1974), New York Mets (1975) and Minnesota Twins (1978), Mac Scarce, who turned 75 on April 8, used to operate McCurdy Mortgage when he lived in Alpharetta, Georgia. A Danville, Virginia native who now resides in Canton, Georgia, Scarce attended J.R. Tucker High School, in Richmond, Virginia and then later Florida State University (FSU).

Scarce was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1985 and the J.R. Tucker H.S. Hall of Fame in 1998.

Scarce appeared in 159 games, all in relief. He saved 21 games and won six others; his lifetime Earned Run Average (E.R.A) in 209 and two-third innings was 3.69. His best season was in 1973, when he saved 12 games for the Phillies and had a sterling E.R.A of 2.42 in 52 appearances.

Men like Scarce are in this position because of a rules change that occurred during the 1980 Memorial Day Weekend. At the time, a player needed four years of service credit to be eligible for both health coverage and a pension. A strike was averted that weekend after the union accepted the following offer— moving forward, all a player would need to be eligible to buy into the league’s umbrella health insurance plan was one game day of service on an active MLB roster. Further, all a player would need to be eligible for a monthly pension was 43 game days on an active MLB roster. 

Unfortunately, the union never requested that this change be made retroactive for the men who had more than 43 game days but less than four years of service.

The affected men do receive a nominal stipend. In brief, for every 43 game days of service a man has accrued, he gets $718.75 up to the maximum, $11,500. Prior to the ratification of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2022, the maximum was $10,000, or $625 for every 43 game days.  And that payment is before taxes are taken out. 

As a rookie, Scarce made $13,500.  Meanwhile, the minimum salary this year is $740,000.

According to the IRS, the maximum pension is $275,000 for a vested player. And he is eligible to buy into the league’s health coverage plan. And when he passes, his designated beneficiaries continue to receive his pension.

But neither Scarce’s daughter, Amanda, nor his two grandchildren, will receive that payment when he dies. Scarce’s second wife, Kathryn, succumbed to breast cancer on December 30, 2014.

Scarce told Rory Costello, of the Society of American Baseball Research, that he “wished my career would have lasted longer. I don’t qualify for the pension -- I get nothing, I played before 1980." 

The MLBPA has been loath to divvy up anymore of the collective pie. Even though the players’ welfare and benefits fund is currently valued at $4.5 billion, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark— the first former player ever to hold that position -- has never commented about these non-vested retirees, many of whom are filing for bankruptcy at advanced ages, having banks foreclose on their homes and are so sickly and poor that they cannot afford adequate health care coverage.


At a time when the likes of Shohei Ohtani, Blake Snell and Josh Hader are cashing in thanks to free agency, I think it’s about time that the men like Scarce, who walked the picket lines, endured labor stoppages and went w/o paychecks so the Ohtanis of the game can be set for life, are taken care of. Especially when the average salary in the sport is up to $4.5 million. 

Unions are supposed to help hard working women and men in this country get a fair shake in life. But the so-called MLBPA labor leader doesn’t seem to want to help anyone but himself – Clark receives a compensation package, including benefits, of more than $4.25 million.

Now does that seem fair to you? If it doesn’t, please let the MLBPA know by sending an email to You can also contact Silvia E. Alvarez (@silviaealvarez) and Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) on X. 

Thank you for going to bat for the men like Mac.


Douglas J. Gladstone is the author of “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & the Players’ Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve.”



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