Major League Baseball owners, despite boasting $8 billion in annual revenue and climbing, are moving toward eliminating the pension plans of all personnel not wearing big league uniforms, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
The first attempt to do so, initiated last year by a small-market owner, never came to a vote after Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf chastised his brethren for being petty with the lives of ordinary people given the riches produced by the sport. A vote, which was intended to be kept secret, is now scheduled to take place at owners meetings May 8-9 in New York.
A majority of owners now favor the abolition of the pension plan, a source said.
The impact would affect much of the Major League Baseball family: front-office executives, trainers, minor league staff and scouts. Some of those personnel, particularly on the minor league level and in amateur scouting, make less than $40,000 a year and rely on pensions in retirement.
"My worry is not about myself, but for my wife and child should something bad happen to me," Detroit Tigers scout Mike Russell said Tuesday. "I am glad the club I work for does not support this."
According to an MLB source, conversation on the topic got "heated" at the last owners' meeting. The source said a possible solution may involve grandfathering those who currently are in the pension program, but doing away with it for new hires.
Twenty-six of baseball's 30 teams participate in the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan. Four teams that opted out -- the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays -- are required to offer plans comparable to or better than what NUPPP offers.
Reinsdorf long has been a champion of the less visible members of the MLB family. When there once was financial anxiety over the stock market crash last decade, he gave many of his employees multiyear contract extensions to ease their distress.
Reinsdorf declined to comment on Tuesday.
MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred acknowledged that candid discussions on the topic have gone on for "several years," but he disputed that pensions will go away entirely.
Sources: MLB owners try to nix some pensions
ESPN New York | Mar 19