Major League Baseball did not violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by excluding former MLB players from pension and medical benefits established for Negro League players, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.
About two dozen Negro League players were receiving $1,000 monthly pension payments.
The original suit was brought by retired Chicago White Sox player Mike Colbern and other retired players in 2003. They claimed their civil rights were violated because they had not received benefits granted to African-American players who had been barred from Major League Baseball until 1947, when Jackie Robinson signed on to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In 1993, MLB created a plan to provide medical coverage for former Negro League players, Four years later, the league adopted a supplemental income plan that provided an annual payment of $10,000 to eligible players.
The appellants were mostly white players who played in the major leagues for less than four years between 1947 and 1979. Vesting rules previously stipulated that players had to be in the majors for at least four seasons to receive benefits.
Denise Placensio, an attorney at Rumsey, DaCorsi & Placensio, the law firm which represented Mr. Colbern's group, did not return a call for comment.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, New York, had $1.2 billion in retirement assets as of March 2003, according to the Money Market Directory.