Baseball's Orphans

Why are 74 old-timers -- players who helped create the multibillion-dollar business called Major League Baseball -- still without pensions?

For years now, he's lived in a trailer home. He's sad, poor, and angry. He sold all the mementos of his baseball days -- gloves, trophies, jerseys, and two World Series rings -- to make ends meet.

He is tortured by the irony of events: If he and his cohorts hadn't joined the Mexican League, the baseball pension might not have been started for years or decades.

"I think us going to Mexico helped with the pension," Lanier says. "You didn't really hear about it until after that. Didn't help me though."

At first, Lanier tried to appeal to reason and a sense of justice. He got the same results as Bob Locker: flowery words and empty promises.

In a recent interview, Lanier reads from a letter Interim Commissioner Bud Selig sent him. The letter is dated Feb. 3, 1997:

Max, I appreciate hearing from you. I assure you you will be in the group who will receive a pension. I remember your career very well. I was a great fan in those days. I was sorry to hear that this injustice had taken place. You are deserving of a pension, and I am embarrassed that all parties have neglected people like you, who made baseball the great dream that it is. Please write me if you have any problem, but I am sure you will be taken care of under the pension plan. It was nice to hear from you ....

Of course, Selig's words were only that.
Lanier never got a pension. He wrote four to five more times to Selig without a result before he gave up.

So now he's suing Major League Baseball.

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