Bill Dillman debut April 14

Trenton native Bill Dillman will be celebrating his 78th birthday next month, on May 25th.

Today, he’ll be celebrating a different kind of anniversary: April 14th marks the day 57 years ago that he debuted as a pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB).

It’s not really a happy occasion.

That is because Dillman is one of 517 retirees being hosed out of pensions by the league and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA), which is the union that represents both current players and minor leaguers.

All the men like Dillman receive are yearly non-qualified retirement stipends of $718.75 for every 43 game days they were on an active MLB roster, up to a maximum payment of $11,500.

These days, the minimum salary for the 26th man riding the pines is $740,000.

Meanwhile, the maximum IRS pension limit these days is $275,000. But the annual stipend Dillman gets is worth only $5,700 per year.

And that’s before taxes are taken out.

Don’t get me wrong: Dillman enjoyed his time in the game and had a modest, if somewhat abbreviated, career in The Show.  He appeared in a total of 50 games in his career, making 15 starts. In 154 and two-third innings, he recorded seven victories, had two complete games, including one shutout, and earned three saves. Besides the Orioles, he also played with the Montreal Expos in 1970.

What Dillman despises is the way the game has forgotten about him and the other non-vested retirees. Especially with all the monies being thrown out to free agents nowadays.

After all, it was the men like Dillman who walked the picket lines, endured labor stoppages and went without paychecks all so that Shohei Ohtani could sign a 10-year, $750 million contract.

In my opinion, that kind of money is obscene. Especially when the average household income in Trenton as of this year is reportedly just $73,045.

As you might know, New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who is a former member of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, made sure to thank the late Marvin Miller and Curt Flood at a news conference five years ago held to trumpet the $324 million contract he signed with the Yankees. Both Miller and Flood were instrumental in free agency finally happening in 1976.

He should have thanked the guys like Dillman too.

Neither MLB nor the MLBPA want to retroactively restore the non-vested men like Dillman into pension coverage. And to make matters worse, the bone Dillman is being thrown each year cannot be passed on to a surviving spouse or designated beneficiary, such as his son, Doug, who once told me that his father is really frustrated by the way he and all the other non-vested retirees have been treated.

Is this fair? Of course not. The executive director of the MLBPA, Tony Clark, refuses to go to bat for the men like Dillman, who now resides in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Unions are supposed to help hard working women and men in this country get a fair shake in life. Dillman is not blind, but he definitely sees that the so-called MLBPA labor leader doesn’t want to help anyone but himself–Clark reportedly receives a yearly salary of 4.25 million.

It is about time the national pastime appreciates what the men like Dillman have given the sport and remedy this injustice once and for all.

Doug Gladstone