Seven years after setting up a then-$11 million pension plan for former Negro League baseball players, Major League Baseball, New York, has set aside more than $1 million in a new charitable program to benefit at least 27 other former Negro League players who did not qualify for the original pension.
Almost 90 players qualified for the pension plan, African-American players who played either four years in the Negro Leagues or a combination of four years in the Negro Leagues and the Major Leagues. The Negro Leagues played from 1920-1948.
Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said the number of players who participate in the new program could increase if the organization determines more former Negro League players are eligible. To qualify, players must have played all or a portion of one season in the Negro Leagues in a calendar year prior to 1958 and all or a portion of a season in the Negro Leagues in at least four calendar years.
"I am pleased that we are able to come to the aid of former Negro League players who are in need," baseball commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig said in a news release. He said Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and former Negro League player Robert L. Mitchell were instrumental in setting up the program.