MLB, MLBPA expand financial assistance to support living Negro Leagues players

May 22nd, 2024

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced an expansion of existing financial assistance programs to support living Negro Leagues players.

The joint initiative, which was announced Wednesday, will provide an annual benefit to players who played fewer than four seasons in the Negro Leagues based on their time in the leagues. A joint committee comprised of officials from both MLB and the MLBPA will establish the eligibility criteria for the newly established program.

“The players of the Negro Leagues are an important part of the history of our sport who persevered because of their love of the game despite the discrimination and segregation they faced,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “As we prepare to celebrate their legacy in June at Rickwood Field, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to further recognize their contributions. I thank Dan Foster and the MLB Players Alumni Association for their efforts to help us build this joint program.”

The program will complement the MLB Players Pension Plan and the existing non-vested benefits programs for former players, both of which are jointly administered by the league and the MLBPA.

“Although long overdue, it is gratifying that these former players who meant so much to our game will finally receive a retirement benefit to help them through their senior years,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. “This is another example of players using their collective voice to bring about progress.”

“The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association is proud to be an integral part of this initiative,” said Dan Foster, the chief executive officer of the MLB Players Alumni Association. “We want to thank the leadership at MLB and the MLBPA for their pivotal role in making these programs available to former players.”

The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) -- an independent nonprofit designed to help members of the baseball family who are in need of emergency financial, medical and other assistance -- also makes additional financial benefits available to Negro Leagues players.

Approximately 60 former Negro Leagues players are expected to attend the June 20 game at Rickwood Field between the Giants and Cardinals. “MLB at Rickwood Field -- A tribute to the Negro Leagues” will mark the first regular-season Major League game to take place at the historic site, which holds the distinction as the oldest professional ballpark in the United States. It is the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons, who played at Rickwood Field from 1924 through 1960.