Asked by phone if he was removed from the pensions committee for asking too many tough questions, Clyde strikes a diplomatic tone.

"The answer that I was given was I wasn't renewed," he says in his slow Texas drawl. "I was not told directly it had anything to do with that, so anything I have to say about that is pure conjecture. But a little bit on the funny side of that is, we get these things approved, we are part of the inner committee that got it approved, and then myself and Gary Neibauer are no longer needed."

He remains "fearful" about non-vested retirees no longer having a voice on the committee.

Alamo resident Ernie Fazio, who played for the Houston Colt 45s and Kansas City Athletics, was among the plaintiffs who unsuccessfully sued Major League Baseball over pensions.
Frank Gaglione
Alamo resident Ernie Fazio, who played for the Houston Colt 45s and Kansas City Athletics, was among the plaintiffs who unsuccessfully sued Major League Baseball over pensions.
Dick Baney (left) and Gerry Janeski were both born in 1946, were both pitchers, and were both drafted by the Red Sox.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano
Dick Baney (left) and Gerry Janeski were both born in 1946, were both pitchers, and were both drafted by the Red Sox.

"For 25 years nothing happened," says Clyde. "Sometimes you have to step on toes to get things done, but I don't think anybody I asked questions of acted as if I was out of line."

Clyde doesn't believe today's players understand that those from his era stood up for them decades ago, bringing free agency to the game and beating the reserve clause. And he's worried about his baseball brothers who are "in sadder shape than I am. I'm sorry they did not get completely what they wanted to get."

All he can pin his hopes on is future negotiations. Clyde believes Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner has his heart in the right place. But it still bothers him that hundreds of players passed away before anything was done.


Gladstone really wishes someone else wrote his book — say a George Will or Buzz Bissinger, anyone with more juice and a bigger built-in audience to shame baseball into doing more for the retirees. Having written articles in Baseball Digest, the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Diego Jewish Times, Gladstone took up the cause for his first book because many were his heroes growing up.

One respected baseball writer who would not have agreed was the late Doug Pappas, who wrote prolifically about the game's economics and often accused Major League Baseball and its media sycophants of spreading false information.

Days before passing away in May 2004, Pappas wrote on "Doug's Business of Baseball Weblog" that the retirees "have no case," that "their lawyers are an embarrassment to the legal profession," and that it was ridiculous that short-timers should receive $10,000 a year for life plus comprehensive medical benefits. "With all due respect," Pappas wrote, "that's like a file clerk who worked for Google for two months in 2001 claiming a right to share in the proceeds of its IPO."

"Unfortunately, members of the Fourth Estate have been indifferent," says Gladstone. "There has been a ton of press, plenty of articles written, but they have not captured the frustration these men still feel."

Gladstone wants to see the moral outrage he and the lost boys of baseball feel, so these stories resonate better with readers. They know an average of 44 players have died every year since the suit was filed in 2002, a death rate that accelerates as the men age.

"I've heard a lot of players, who are not Young Turks, say that if they had youth on their side they would fight harder," Gladstone says. "The bottom line is Major League Baseball does not have to legally do anything on behalf of these men. They do not have to negotiate with non-vested players. The union does not have to offer them the duty of fair representation. They don't have to be legal advocates."

However, he believes baseball "opened a Pandora's box" when it awarded the benefits to the Negro Leaguers. "You can't give benefits to one group that, strictly speaking, did not have a contractual history with the league, then hose guys like Dick Baney, David Clyde, and all the others that did have a legal, contractual history," says Gladstone.

It's the stories of these players struggling in their golden years that haunt Gladstone. Guys like Jim Qualls, a utility man who as a rookie with the Cubs in 1969 broke up Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver's bid for a perfect game. Now 65, Qualls cannot pay his health premiums, and recently received a pink slip from his job, which offered no pension.

Jimmy Driscoll, a middle infielder with the A's and Rangers from '70 to '72, used his small stipend to pay his home heating bill in North Conway, N.H. He puts it best: "We're the lost boys of baseball."

Or ex-outfielder and first baseman Jimmy Hutto. He has had a stroke, undergone surgery for a cerebral aneurism, and he suffers from extreme arthritis in both knees. Speaking by phone from his home in Pensacola, Fla., the former Baltimore Oriole and Philadelphia Phillie laughs and adds, "Other than that, I feel great." He could use the medical benefits baseball provides vested retirees, and he believes he deserves it because he's certain the game caused his arthritis.

Hutto returned to manage with the Orioles in the mid-'80s, but was not rehired in 1986. Now 65, he does home improvements and, despite his declining health, does not see retirement as an option any time soon. His baseball annuity is $150 a month after taxes.

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pacocornholio
pacocornholio

Can they finish their degrees now on scholarships from the United Niekro College Fund?

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mixedsingle_com1

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