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Volume 24 No. 158
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MLB, MLBPA Announce Expansion Of Pensions For Retired Players

MLB and the MLBPA this afternoon announced they will begin making payments to former players from '47-80 with more limited service time that did not qualify for the league's normal pension benefit plan. Prior to '80, only players with at least four years of service time qualified for a pension, and players under that threshold will now receive payments of as much as $10,000 for each of the next two years. The funds, paid jointly by the league and union, will derive from the sport's existing competitive balance tax. An extension to the payments beyond next year will be discussed under ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. At least 900 former players will be newly eligible for the payments.

"We are a family and this is simply the right thing to do," said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. The move additionally recalls the early days for the MLBPA, for which retirement benefits were a key initial issue. "These are meaningful payments, and additional meaningful because of the recognition this confers on this group of players," said MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner. "This was a long time in coming, but it's important to stress that there was no legal obligation for MLB to discuss this issue. But I share (Selig's) view that is the right thing to do for the right reasons."

Selig did not address his move yesterday to strip operational and financial control of the Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt during the press conference. But Joe Torre, former Dodgers manager and now MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations, called it a "necessary" step. "It wasn't an easy thing for (Selig) to do, but it's what's needed. He clearly felt the franchise should be on more solid footing," Torre said. "Hopefully when all is said and done, the franchise will be healthy."

The Dodgers saga was briefly referred to when Eddie Robinson, a former MLB player and GM participating in the retiree benefits press conference, quipped he would "like to put my name in for a job with the Dodgers." Selig then hung his head in gallows humor.

An MLB exec confirmed that Selig is days away from naming his designed representative to run the Dodgers, with a selection likely to arrive next week.