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It’s About Time!
NEW YORK, NY.–More than two dozen players from the Negro Leagues will receive pensions from a charitable fund to be established by Major League Baseball, a source told The Associated Press.
The 27 players all played part of at least four seasons after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. A management source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the agreement Saturday. Details are expected to be announced Monday.
The agreement was first reported by The Washington Post. Players will have the option of getting $833.33 per month for four years — a rate of $10,000 per year — or $375 a month for life.
“That’s great. Good for them,” said former Negro Leagues player Buck O’Neil, chairman of the Negro Leagues museum in Kansas City. “They deserved to get something.”
In March, commissioner Bud Selig told Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., that a proposal would be made to cover players left out of a Negro Leagues pension fund created in 1997. That agreement set up annual pensions of $7,500 to $10,000 for players who spent a total of four years in the majors or Negro Leagues, including at least one day in the big leagues, after 1947.
The players affected by the new agreement did not play in the majors. Nelson had said these players did not get a full chance to make it because, even after Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, not every team was integrated until the Boston Red Sox became the last club with a black player in 1959.
“Not every team thought it needed a black ballplayer right away,” O’Neil said. “The New York Yankees didn’t until they got Elston Howard. The Red Sox didn’t, either.”
Howard began playing for the Yankees in 1955. Pumpsie Green joined the Red Sox four years later.
“The older guys before Jackie, they never had a chance.
Josh Gibson, myself, others. Baseball was segregated,” O’Neil said. “The guys after Jackie, they at least had the opportunity to get signed in the major leagues. Some of those guys in the Negro Leagues after Jackie, they weren’t good enough to play in the majors.
“But they still deserved something,” he said. “All right for them that they’re getting a pension.”