MLB comes together for Alumni Day in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- Jim Hannan sat alone in the Atlanta clubhouse during Spring Training after playing 10 years in Major League Baseball. He had just heard word that the Braves wanted to send him down to their Triple-A team in Richmond, and had decided he was going to walk away from the game.
Hannan felt a tap on his shoulder and proceeded to explain his situation to a teammate who had just entered the locker room.
"If I'm not going make it here, I'm not going to make it," Hannan said.
Hannan ended his MLB career with a conversation with the great Hank Aaron in which he described as the perfect way to end his career. On Tuesday, Hannan had the opportunity to tell that story, and many others, to former MLB players at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Alumni Day in Baltimore.
Thirty former MLB players and their wives from across the league joined together on the seventh floor of the Camden Yards warehouse for one of 15 events the MLBPAA puts on for former players across the country.
The attendees shook hands, grabbed some food and drinks and exchanged war stories in a room of former players who combined for 3,234 games over 83 years of baseball history.
"If you look, there are young players, old players and just being able to get them all in one room," said MLBPAA CEO Dan Foster.
There were reminders of baseball throughout room, whether it be the people, the carpet patterned with a character holding a bat or the hot dogs and sauerkraut that occupied the table. But while baseball was the central theme of the night, the MLBPAA directors provided the members with a ton of information for their post-baseball life, some of whom were newer than others.
The directors spoke about benefits, pensions, health care and even a wives program that has been created. They provided the members with a marketing opportunity to earn some money for appearances, memorabilia business opportunities and licensing.
"[The alumni opportunities] are a great stepping stone for people that aren't in the game that want to stay around it," said former Orioles pitcher John Parrish.
The room was filled with a variety of Major Leaguers from some unfamiliar names to a Hall of Famer in Brooks Robinson. But the MLBPAA tries to take care of all of its players, no matter their status.
The program continues to grow, sitting at over 5,000 members, and has reached the current crop of MLB players -- with about 97 percent of them having already paid their lifetime dues.
"The big part of our organization is the fraternal aspect," Foster said. "Getting guys that haven't seen each other in a long time talking about it, and we are trying to get the different generations."