In 1975, Brooks Robinson basked in the twilight glow of a sterling career. Meanwhile, teammate Baltimore teammate Jim Hutto struggled for a second chance after his debut with the 1970 Phillies. Five more seasons of minor league exile followed.
Doug Gladstone is author of A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB and the Players Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve
He caught up with Hutto, who tried to reconnect with his famous teammate years later. Hutto is one of the pension-less veterans who’ve sought recognition for their service to the game. As Gladstone tells it:
“There is also a tremendously poignant October 7, 2008 letter from Jim Hutto, the former Phillies and Orioles catcher, that is liberally quoted from. It was sent to Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Famer who now serves as president of the Board of Directors of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA):
“I am crippled with arthritis brought on by the abuse I put my body through playing baseball. I am permanently disabled physically, but my brain is still working. And it’s telling me that no one in baseball has the balls to do what is right and put our group of 900 or so guys on the same level playing field with all those other guys who are receiving benefits. I am just a regular person who played baseball once upon a time. At my age, I’m just trying to get out of bed every morning and do what I can to make ends meet. I am trying to get by with some dignity and as hokey as this may sound, I want to be able to look upon my baseball life as a good thing. The other 900 ballplayers feel the same way.’
Hutto is still waiting for the courtesy of a response.”
Please, go the Doug Gladstone’s website to learn more about this wrong. Buy his book if you can. Then, get ready to go to bat for 874 deserving players. Good letters can do more than obtain autographs. Good letters can change lives.
Tomorrow: the author tells all, giving a list of the people and places fans can contact with their protests.