Chicago Cubs: MLBPA should leave no player behind

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Chicago Cubs

Don Kessinger #11 / Carmen Fanzone Team, 1974 Chicago Cubs (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs retired infielder, Carmen Fanzone, is just one of 600 MLB players that never received a full pension due to a rule change 40 years ago.

Today there are 600 retired MLB players, including former Chicago Cubs, Carmen Fanzone, who have been mostly ‘left behind’ any pension benefits by MLB and the MLBPA; due to a simple vesting rule change from the ’80s. In an age of philanthropy by both these professional organizations, why are there still 600 former MLB players not getting their full benefits?

MLB is making millions daily through ads, sales, franchises and more. The MLBPA is also a wealthy organization now that MLB has come into its own and is seeing contracts like the one Chicago Cubs outfielder, Jason Heyward, signed for $184 million.  Yet today some 600 players aren’t earning their proper pensions due to a 1980 vesting rule change that left them behind like former Chicago Cubs first, second, and third baseman, Carmen Fanzone.

Fanzone was a decent enough player, taking the field four out of the five years of his career in 227 games for the Cubs. When Fanzone joined the Cubs in 1971, he was a celebrity baseball player just like the current Cubs shortstop, Javier Baez, or first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Fans lined up to get autographs just as they do today. Sure, he wasn’t Ernie Banks, but Fanzone was a pretty good ballplayer.

Fanzone’s five-year career in MLB accounts for  20 home runs, 94 RBIs,  27 doubles, 132 hits and 66 runs. Fanzone’s .686 career OPS and .313 OBP are somewhat better than the second baseman; the Cubs just hired in Jason Kipnis. So it’s easy to compare and say that Fanzone was as professional then as players are today. Douglas Gladstone wrote about Fanzone’s impressions of being a star in Fra Noi.com

“When I was there, if people found out you played for the Cubs, you were treated like royalty,” the 78-year-old Fanzone says. “It doesn’t make much sense to me,” he says. “These days, salaries are going up and up; it’s like the owners are playing with Monopoly money.”

Throughout Fanzone’s career, he never caught a break when it came to finances. Fanzone signed for $25 the year before MLB started a draft.  $25 was the cost of a new mitt  Fanzone just bought. Fanzone told his scout he needed the $25 to pay for the mitt, and just like that -Fanzone was recruited! What’s unfortunate is that Fanzone’s teammates that came on board a year or two later were getting $100,000 signing bonuses.

Not only did Fanzone miss out on a big signing bonus, but they also missed out on a decent pension.

Here’s what happened.

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