The pensions of some of the older retired major league players will more than double under a recent agreement.
Pensions for each class of retirees will increase markedly, with the biggest increase going to players who were active before 1959.
Mark Belanger, special assistant to the Major League Baseball Players Assn., said today that a player with 10 years in the majors who took retirement at age 50 before 1958 will receive $1,394 a month, a 114% increase from the current $650 a month.
He said the association agreed last week with the owners' Players Relations Committee about what benefits it would buy with money provided by the new basic agreement. The new pension schedule and other changes are effective immediately.
Among the other changes are an increase in benefits to widows from about 50% to 100%; maximum lifetime health insurance payments from $2 million to $10 million, and elimination of health care deductibles.
"The current players have been very gracious in taking a lot of this money and giving it to former players, and they always have," Belanger, a former Baltimore Orioles shortstop, said.
Some recent retirees have been receiving $90,000 a year, which will increase to $102,000, the federal maximum.
Last month, there were reports that some older retirees were angry about their small pensions and have had to sell World Series rings and other memorabilia.
The Kansas City Star, which today published details of the new pension agreement, talked to several former players about the change.
U.S. Rep. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), a former major league pitcher and leader of a group of retirees that had pushed for the increases, told The Star the changes are spectacular. " . . . I am deeply gratified and indebted to the current players for their generosity and for taking into account some of the needs of retirees."
Early Wynn, a member of the same retirees' committee and a former pitcher, said, "I really like it, and I'm tickled to death for the widows. I'm tickled to death with the whole thing."