The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Pitcher and Broadcaster

24 April 2011

Douglas Gladstone: MLB-Union Agreement only a "Partial Victory"; Pirate Legend Nellie King's Family to be Stiffed



In the wake of the recent joint announcement by both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) that inactive, non-vested men who played between 1947 and 1979 will receive up to $10,000 per year, depending on their length of service credit, as compensation for their contributions to the national pastime, Douglas J. Gladstone, the author of the controversial A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve, called the agreement "only a partial victory."

"We don't live in a perfect world, and this is far from a perfect solution to this problem. What was announced doesn't provide health insurance coverage, nor will any player's spouse or loved one receive a designated beneficiary payment after the man passes. So in my estimation, this is only a partial victory.

"I am, however, elated that these men are at long last finally going to receive some type of payment for their time in the game," continued Gladstone. "This was a wrong that should have been righted years ago."

Featuring a foreword written by the Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, Dave Marash, A Bitter Cup of Coffeetells the true story about a group of former big-league ballplayers denied pensions as a result of the failure of both the league and the union to retroactively amend the vesting requirement change that granted instant pension eligibility to ballplayers in 1980. As you may know, prior to that year, ballplayers had to have four years service credit to earn an annuity and medical benefits. Since 1980, however, all you have needed is one day of service credit for health insurance and 43 days of service credit for a pension.

Here's, in part, what the Midwest Book Review had to say about the book in its official review, which was published last May:

A wealth of interviews with former players, including heart-touching stories of the hard times some of them have endured, peppers this thoughtful and timely account, which gains especial relevance in light of the current debate about the state of health care in America.

 "I've said on numerous occasions that this whole disgraceful chapter in labor relations was a terrible inequity and injustice that stains baseball's history," said Gladstone.  "The announcement made on Thursday, April 21, 2011 is a step in the right direction, but I'd be interested in knowing what, if anything, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the head of the players union, Mr. Michael Weiner, plan to offer the families of Jay D. Schlueter, Bill Jennings, Nellie King and Jay Van Noy, each of whom died after my book was published. Regrettably, it appears they won't be receiving a plug nickel. And that is truly unfortunate."

Last August, the legendary Pittsburgh Pirate broadcaster Nellie King died at the age of 82. Most people weren't aware that Nellie was a pitcher before he started his second career in the radio and television booth. He had Parkinson's and was residing in Friendship Village, a retirement home in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania while his wife of 58 years, Bernadette, was confined to the Devonshire of Mount Lebanon Assisted Living Center, in Pittsburgh. His profile is featured in the concluding chapter of A Bitter Cup of Coffee.

The book was published on April 14, 2010. Once again, thank you, in advance, for your attention to this email.  If you'd like to speak with Mr. Gladstone directly, feel free to contact him at 1-518-817-8253. The executrix of Mr. King's estate, his daughter, Amy, is available to be interviewed as well. 

16 April 2011

New Details Emerge about Branch Rickey's Historic Signing of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers

Over at Bleacher Report, Tom Kinslow reveals a fascinating new spiritual dimension of Branch Rickey's decision to sign Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus breaking the MLB color barrier.

Branch Rickey was  a devoutly religious man given to sermonizing and speaking to the players in parables. One such parable, which he told Pirates players at the start of spring training in 1955, is the source of the title of Nellie's book:

"Mr. Rickey likened happiness to a 'cur-dog.' There was a worker who was busy painting a garage. Just as he was beginning to paint he noticed a cur dog [a "mutt"] nearby. Fascinated by the dog, he reached down and tried to pet the animal. As soon as he did, the dog ran away. So the painter returned to his job and soon the dog returned. The dog nudged his leg; unaware of the dog, the man kept painting and whistling. Suddenly he felt the dog reaching up and pawing at his thigh. 
Mr. Rickey would go on to explain, 'That's what happiness is. You can't go out looking and searching for it, if you do, it will escape from you and run away like that cur-dog. But if you go about your work, enjoying it, happiness will be there right beside you'."
Today,  Jamie Crawford of CNN.com relates that Rickey came to the decision to sign Robinson after going to a church to do a little soul searching:

This is the era that Nellie writes about so warmly in Happiness is like a Cur Dog. It's a great summer read for baseball fans and history buffs of all ages, and a wonderful introduction to the golden age of baseball for young fans. Consider purchasing it today!

The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Baseball Pitcher and Broadcaster