NEW YORK – Players who appeared for the major leagues for less than four years from 1947-79 will receive payments of up to $10,000 in each of the next two years under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association.
At least 904 players will receive money under the agreement, according to Dan Foster, chief executive officer of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. The size of each payment will depend on quarters of service.
The payments will be funded mostly from money paid from the luxury tax assessed each year on high-spending teams. Of the $209.8 million in tax money raised since 2003, $192.2 million has been contributed by the New York Yankees.
"Sometimes in life, it's just the right thing to do," Commissioner Bud Selig said at a news conference Thursday. "I believe baseball is a social institution, and with that comes social responsibilities."
Until 1980, players needed four years to vest in the pension plan. Since then, players need just one day in the majors to vest.
"Today is a day of celebration and appreciation," Foster said.
Current players fully vest in the pension plan with 10 years of major league service. Most fully vested players receive $195,000 annually, the maximum allowed under IRS rules, starting at age 62.
Some pre-1980 players have long said they should be allowed to share in the gains made by those who came after them. Baseball's average salary has risen from $19,000 in 1967 to $143,000 in 1980 to $3 million last year.
Union head Michael Weiner said the sides had been talking about this deal since at least 2009.
"There was absolutely no legal obligation at all for the clubs to discuss this issue with the players' association or alumni association," he said.
Standing to Selig's side was former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre, attending his first news conference as Selig's executive vice president of baseball operations.
Former major league player and general manager Eddie Robinson sat at the dais as Selig made the announcement.
"Bud, I'd like to put my name in for a job with the Dodgers," Robinson said.
Selig announced Wednesday that MLB is taking over operations of the Dodgers because of concern over the way the franchise is being run by Frank McCourt, who is in bitter divorce proceedings with wife Jamie McCourt.