An Open Letter to Tony Clark

Mr. Clark,

Good afternoon. I just learned that a former Minnesota Twins pitcher named Hal Haydel died last September.

Does that please you? It means there’s one less retired ballplayer around that you have to pay from the pool of monies set up by your predecessor, the late Michael Weiner, and former Commissioner Bud Selig in April 2011.

Is that your game plan? When all these men pass, and the Competitive Balance Tax is fully replenished, you’ll have more monies for your rank and file?

Where’s your conscience? Where’s your humanity?

When is this going to stop?

When are you going to acknowledge that today’s ballplayers owe a debt of gratitude to the men who came before them? Nobody begrudges anyone a 13-year, $330 million contract. Props if that person can command that kind of money on the open market. But by the same token, when do you and your rank and file acknowledge that many of these men stood on picket lines, endured labor stoppages, lost service credit and went without paychecks all do that free agency could be ushered in?

When do you go to bat for all the pre-1980 ballplayers who aren’t vested and get them a real living wage, not this ridiculous actuarial computation of $625 for every 43 game days someone accrued on an active MLB roster? Just pay them a flat $10,000 a man and let them figure out their own tax withholdings.

There’s a precedent for this, as you know. All the pre-1947 players who were still alive received $10,000 a year in 1997, and those men didn’t pay union dues because the pension plan only became effective in April 1947.

Will you and your new Director of Collective Bargaining, Mr. Bruce Meyer, ever show you have the stones to do the right thing?

After all, not everyone is making the $2.1 million salary (with benefits) that you are, on top of your MLB pension to boot.

When you bring this issue to the collective bargaining table, make sure this time that, when the man passes, his payment doesn’t pass with him. As currently configured, when Steve Grilli, Tom Bruno, Carmen Fanzone and Chuck Scrivener go to that great baseball diamond in the sky, their respective spouses Cathy, Jayne, Sue, and Barbara will get squat. That’s exactly what happened to the late Dave Hilton’s spouse, Patty, when he passed away in September 2017.

I am not suggesting that these payments go on for perpetuity, only for a reasonable period of time sufficient to allow a loved one, widow or child not to be done in by economic circumstances.

As always, I hope to hear from you at your first convenience. But since you don’t respond to certified, return-receipt requested correspondence from so many of these players and/or their wives, I’m not expecting anything from you.

Live up to your moniker. Be a tiger, Tony. You received the prestigious Jackie Robinson Award from the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame purportedly because you lived up to the standards of that great social justice pioneer. I don’t think you have, quite frankly. But you can. Do the right thing. Earn your stripes.

Douglas J. Gladstone, Author
“A Bitter Cup of Coffee”

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