“The MLBPA is a Soul-Crushing Industry” The Story of Former Padre Dave Hilton

Dave Hilton

Labor unions were formed to help the working men and women of this country. They advocate for the interests of all the working men and working women who pay taxes in this country, who contribute to the economy, who try to do right by their families.

There’s one union, however, that couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the working men and women of this country — the Major League Baseball Players Association. Let me explain.

In order to avert a strike during the 1980 Memorial Day weekend, the union was offered the following sweetheart deal: one game day of service credit for its members to be eligible for health insurance, and 43 game days of service for a pension, which is currently work between $34,000 and $210,000.

The problem was the union didn’t insist on retroactive coverage for any of its members who played PRIOR to 1980. Men like the Padres’ Dave Hilton, for example.

So in April 2011, the league and union tried to partially remedy the problem by giving men like Hilton $625 for each quarter of 43 game days of service they accrued, up to 16 quarters. The payment, which is not a real pension, cannot be passed on to a widow, loved one, family member, or other designated beneficiary. When the man passes, the payment passes with him.

As Padre fans know, the well-respected Hilton, who ran the Arizona School of Baseball in Scottsdale, Arizona, passed away on September 17, 2017.

So his widow, Patty, now gets squat. Bupkis. Nada. A big fat goose egg.

“MLBPA is a soul crushing organization,” she told me recently via email.

There’s a lot of money floating around baseball these days. Forbes recently reported that each team is worth at least $1.56 billion — up 19 percent from the year before. And the union’s players’ welfare and benefits fund is worth $2.8 billion per year.

Yet the league, which just cut a $10 million check to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown — essentially, the 30 club owners chose museum relics over retirees — isn’t required to negotiate about this matter. The league only has to deal with it in collective bargaining negotiations.

So the onus is on the union to introduce this subject, which it heretofore has been loathe to do. Something about not wanting to divvy up anymore of the pie.

This is a $12-$13 billion industry that can afford to be kind and nice to the Patty Hilton’s of the world.

If you agree, please write to Commissioner Manfred at rob.manfred@mlb.com and Tony Clark of the union at tonyc@mlbpa.org.

You can also try calling the union’s pensions liaison, Steve Rogers, at 646-430-2112.

But be prepared. The last baseball fan who called Mr. Rogers about this matter says he was hung up on by the former Montreal Expos ace.

Rogers sure isn’t Captain America.

For that matter, this players’ association sure isn’t trying to help working men and women, widows, and children.

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Doug Gladstone

Freelance magazine writer.

Advocate for MLB players rights


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