27 former Negro Leaguers to get benefits

May 17, 2004 at 4:25 PM
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NEW YORK, May 17 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball Monday announced the creation of a charitable program that will pay pensions to 27 players from the old Negro League.

The 27, who played just after baseball's color barrier was broken by Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, will have the option of receiving $10,000 a year for four years or $375 a month for life.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida urged baseball to create the fund, along with Bob Mitchell, who pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1950s.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am pleased that we are able to come to the aid of former Negro League players who are in need," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said.

The players to receive the new benefits did not play in the major leagues. After Robinson joined the Brooklyn team, it took more than a decade for all big league clubs to integrate.

The new fund is an addition to a plan created in 1997. About 85 former Negro League players began receiving benefits at that time, but dozens of others were left out because they didn't meet the plan's requirements. Many have since died.

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