My book tells 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.
This past April 21st, both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced that all these 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. The first check was sent to these men last Labor Day; the second installment was sent this past February.
One of the men affected is Belleville, Illinois’ Marion Sylvester “Bud ” Zipfel. Now a successful real estate developer, Zipfel was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in 1956, but played for the Washington Senators during the 1961 and 1962 seasons. A power hitting first baseman / outfielder who only appeared in 118 career games, Zipfel is due to turn 74 on November 18th.
Zipfel earned the nickname “Zipper the Ripper” and the “Belleville Belter” for his long homeruns and extra base hits. Of his 78 total hits in just more than 350 plate appearances, nearly one-third of them went for extra bases; all told, he had 11 doubles, 10 homeruns and six triples to his credit. He also scored 38 times and had 39 runs batted in.