December 2, 2004

NLBPA Board Member interviewed on TV

Outgoing Councilman Wants Negro Baseball League Pension

POSTED: 6:38 pm EST December 2, 2004

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore City Councilman Melvin Stukes, who will leave his post after 13 years of public service, held hearings Thursday on issues ranging from prostitution to the creation of a pension for surviving Negro baseball league players and their relatives, WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins reported.

Bert Simmons pitched for the Baltimore Elite Giants. He and most others in the Negro baseball league earned $200 a month. Simmons said many of the surviving players are destitute.

"A lot are in nursing homes and we have to pay for that, and they don't have money," he said.

Leon Day spent 22 years in the Negro league. He died days after being named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He too made little money and there was no pension plan. His widow, Geraldine Day, is struggling to make ends meet.

"Leon didn't have a pension. He didn't have a job. The only thing I have to live off of is my Social Security," Geraldine Day said.

Stukes, and fellow Councilman Bob Curran, have come up with a way to help Negro league widows and surviving players.

Stukes is making a pitch to Major League Baseball teams to donate one-tenth of 1 percent of the proceeds from one game that would fund a Negro league pension fund.

Geraldine Day, Simmons and other Negro league advocates testified Thursday morning in favor of a City Council resolution calling for a pension fund, Collins reported.

MLB has already put aside $1 million for 27 former Negro league players, including those who played baseball between 1954 and 1958. But it doesn't come close to covering those who need financial help, Collins reported.

Watch the WBAL video here: