A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB and the Players Association Threw 874 Retirees a Curve – by Douglas J. Gladstone
Yet those with knowledge of the game’s history know that these large sums of money being given to players came about relatively recently, after the reserve clause was done away and players won the right to be free agencies in December 1975. But not everyone who puts on a Major League uniform cashes checks with an abundance of zeroes, but more importantly, not every one of them gets to participate in one of MLB’s most lucrative benefits – a pension program. Thanks to omissions in previous editions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, 874 players find themselves left out of that pool of money, and that is a grave injustice that Douglas J. Gladstone tackles in his book A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB and the Players Association Threw 874 retirees a Curve.
What makes this book special is that it tackles a current, relevant and unfortunately not widely known about topic and gives the reader a very detailed look at it, albeit with the tone of advocacy journalism, which Gladstone readily acknowledges but doesn’t let it get in the way of making a book worth reading. It’s not a romantic book – if anything, it is a near tragedy that will leave a bitter taste in your mouth after you see baseball players and the teams turning their backs on their fellow players.
Gladstone assembles what seems to be his own 40-man roster of former players and executives to ultimately tell the story of how and why this group of players found themselves on the outside looking in. It can be tough to keep everyone straight at times, but that is a minor detail in what is otherwise a very good read.
If you are interested in baseball beyond what happens on the field, and in particular the business of baseball and how it relates to its former employees, this is a wonderful book that provides an eye-opening look behind the curtain of baseball’s labor negotiations and who has been left behind in the name of labor relations progress.