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Thinking about Dave Stenhouse on this Father’s Day
To all the dads out there, I wish you a happy Father’s Day today. And here’s a special shout out to former Washington Senator Dave Stenhouse.
Dave, who started the 1962 All-Star Game as a rookie hurler for the Senators, is the father of former major leaguer Michael Stenhouse and Dave Stenhouse, Jr., who regrettably never got called up to the Show and only made it as far as the team’s Triple A- affiliate, the Syracuse Skychiefs.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dave two years ago when my book tour took me through Rholde Island. A native of Westerly, he and his wife now reside in Providence.
The elder Stenhouse is especially on my mind today because, while Michael receives all the benefits of being vested in the player’s pension fund, Dave Sr. does not. And I think that’s cosmically absurd.
Interestingly, Steve Grilli and Hank Webb are in the same position as Dave. Their kids are pitching in the majors now — Jason Grilli with the Pirates and Ryan Webb with the Miami Marlins — and, when their respective careers end, they’ll get pensions.
But their dads, whose cups of coffee in the bigs ended before the league and the union agreed to change pension eligibility rules in May 1980, don’t receive ’em. All they get is a stupid life annuity payment that isn’t even guaranteed. Under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league and the players’ union, these life annuities are only ensured through 2016.
It’s appeasement, pure and simple. These men are being thrown a bone by an $8 billion industry that isn’t lacking for money.
What’s more, if either Dave, Steve or Hank croak tomorrow, none of their spouses or loved ones or designated beneficiaries will have that payment passed on to them. See, since this isn’t a real pension, there is no survivor benefit.
And that’s just an egregious injustice that I don’t think enough people know about.
Hey, I’m the parent of a beautiful four-year-old girl. And there’s a reason parents like me care about the future generation. Our kids are our future.
But let’s also not forget the folks who came before us, like the Dave Stenhouses of the world. Let’s show them some healthy respect too.
Listen, I can’t wait to teach my daughter how to turn two properly — right now, her footwork on the pivot from second needs a little work, but that’s okay. I’m confident she’ll get the hang of it eventually.
Sad to say, I’m not at all confident MLB nor the players’ union are going to do right by men such as Stenhouse, Grilli or Webb.
Under the terms of the life annuity agreement between the league and the union, each non vested player receives a whopping $625 for each quarter of service he accrued in the majors, up to 16 quarters or four years. So Dave, who had about three years credit, comes home with a gross check of $7,500, if he’s lucky. And that’s before taxes are taken out. Cheapskates to the end, MLB and the union didn’t even give these guys the courtesy of sending ’em W4-P forms to let them decide how many withholding deductions they wanted to file.
So a guy like Grilli, who had appx 2 1/3 years of service in the bigs, between his time with the Tigers and Blue Jays, grossed $5,625. His net per year? A paltry $3,700.
Meanwhile, want to know what the average MLB pension amounts to? As of 2006, it was $32,000 per year.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Mr. Stenhouse received his first life annuity benefit last September; the second installment was supposed to be disbursed to him this past February.
As I mentioned earlier, in the CBA unveiled two days before Thanksgiving last year, the league and union extended these life annuity payments through 2016. But does that mean that Dave, Steve or Hank are really thankful? What happens if, in the next CBA, the league and the union decide to nix this payment plan?
They’ll all get squat.
If, like me, you want to see that Dave and all the men like him are really treated fairly, here are some folks you can contact:
Mr. Rob Manfred, Vice President of Labor Relations for MLB; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Geoff C. Hixson, the chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, can be contacted at email@example.com. His phone number is 719-477-1870, ext. 110
Dan Foster is the executive director of the association, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org; alternatively, his direct number is 719-477-1870, ext. 112.
If enough people complain, maybe by next Father’s Day, Dave will enjoy all the pension privileges that his son, Michael, now receives.
And that would be great.