Mr. Gladstone contacted TMD via email and asked us to consider posting the following information relative to his book. Not only is it relevant for Black History (the month is extracted on purpose), but it also has local connection with the Brewers. Support this work and get this book.
Bernie Smith, a 61-year-old African American who played eight seasons of minor league baseball with the New York Mets before catching on as a reserve outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, is one of nearly 900 men who don’t receive pensions and health insurance from Major League Baseball.
Smith played during a time, between 1947 and 1979, when you needed to accrue four years of service credit to become vested in MLB’s pension plan. In 1980, that threshold was lowered to what it’s been ever since: one day of service to become eligible to but into the league’s umbrella health insurance coverage, and 43 game days of service to qualify for a retirement benefit.
Unfortunately for men like Smith, Herb Washington, Billy Harrell, Wayne Cage and other African American ballplayers, that new requirement was never made retroactive for the pre-1980 players. So nearly 900 men fell between the cracks and now find themselves on the outside looking in.
My book, A Bitter Cup of Coffee, tells the true story about a group of former big-league ballplayers denied pensions as a result of the failure of both the league and the union to retroactively amend the vesting requirement change that granted instant pension eligibility to ballplayers in 1980.
As a result of all the publicity my book generated, in April 2011, MLB and the players’ association announced with much fanfare that all these men would receive life annuities totaling up to $10,000 per year, based on the service credit they accrued. Regrettably, the payment plan still doesn’t permit them to be covered by health insurance, nor can a payment be passed onto a designated beneficiary, wife, child or loved one when the man dies.
The complicated payment formula permits each man to receive up to $625 for every quarter of service they accrued while on a major league roster, up to 16 quarters or four years. So a man who, say, is credited with one year of service would receive a gross check of $2,500. A man who is credited with, say, 3 1/4 years would receive a gross check of $8,125.
In the latter example, a player who accrued 3 1/4 years of service would actually receive a net amount of only $5,900, since MLB does not issue W4-P forms to these retirees so they can determine how much should be taken out for taxes.
Given that MLB is a $8 billion industry, most of the players believe that they have been thrown the equivalent of a bone. It was appeasement at its most obvious.
Smith is among the men who received monies in September 2011; a second life annuity was disbursed to him last January, while his third payment was supposed to have been disbursed to him last month.
In the recently unveiled collective bargaining agreement between the union and the league, these life annuities were extended through 2016.
Born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana in September 1941, Calvin Bernard “Bernie” Smith attended Southern University, the historically black college located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and played for the Jaguars of the Southwestern Atlantic Conference in 1960 and 1961. He and Hall of Famer Lou Brock both played for the Jaguars in 1960.
After bouncing around the Mets minor league system, Smith made it to The Show as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, when he went 21 for 76, inclduing three doubles, one triple and one homerun. All told, in his abbreviated career, Smith only appeared in 59 games; he came up to the plate 112 times, scored nine runs and was credited with nine runs batted in.
In 1973, Smith managed the Danville Warriors, a Class A farm team in Danville, Illinois affiliated with the Brewers, and guided them to a 66-57 record in the Midwest League. The Warriors lost the Midwest League Finals that season.
I’ve said on numerous occasions that this whole disgraceful chapter in labor relations was a terrible inequity and injustice that stained baseball’s history. Although the life annuity plan is a step in the right direction, I hope that both the league and the union will ultimately restore these men into pension coverage.
I have attached a front cover image for your information. I am also sending you a link to the book’s official website. It can be accessed at: http://www.abittercupofcoffee.com.
The book was published on April 14, 2010. Once again, thank you, in advance, for your attention to this email. If you’d like to speak with me directly, feel free to call me on my cell at 1-518-817-8253.
January 11, 2013 – a very well attended rally took place at Coffee Makes You Black to let the community here from stakeholders interested in supporting a new campaign to support Black Males in MPS schools. The Drum was there and we wanted to share some of the audio from community leaders.
Michelle Pitts, Owner New Pitts Mortuary
Derrik Rogers, Principal Transition High School
Denisha Tate, Boys & Girls Club Milwaukee
I know everyone is into the national politics and debates and caught up in everything going on around us, but this story caught my eye. I thought it was an interesting piece and something worthy of discussion. It is not a new topic but still a hot topic. Every now and again it is healthy to look at the other topics being discussed around the blogosphere. Hope you will find it as interesting.
I’m Not African American; I’m Black
By: Shahida Muhammad | Posted: June 14, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Ebony contributor Shahida Muhammad argues that the “politically correct” term doesn’t say enough to be useful.
What does it mean to be African American? This is a question that is quietly resurfacing in Black discourse, due to the fact that many of our people are rejecting the term as a means of identification. While “African American” still manages to be socially accepted, it seems many privately take issue with the term. I’ll admit, I’m one of those people. I have never truly felt connected to ‘African American,’ yet have never felt compelled to argue my standpoint publicly because our discussions on identity tend to be dividing and non-productive. However, I believe it’s a topic worth re-examining, as the term has been the questionable dashiki in the room for quite some time.
I have never been offended by the use of ‘African American,’ but personally there are a few reasons I don’t particularly like the term. I have used it in my writing when making efforts to be politically correct, or as an alternative reference to Black people. Yet I have always viewed it as just that: a politically correct alternative to Black. Never something I whole-heartedly embraced. I have checked it on applications, but never used it to self-identify in real-life. It has always felt forced, redundant, and quite frankly, inaccurate. Using the term ‘African American’ feels like using Kente cloth made in China trying desperately to authenticate myself. In theory I know where I’m from, but in actuality I wasn’t made there.
I’m very much aware that my ancestors were from Africa, and in no way would I want to distance myself from that fact. From an early age my family taught me the painful context of our history in this country, and also that our history as a people did not begin solely with slavery. We come from great peoples and civilizations, and it’s something that has always given me a sense of pride and dignity. However, knowing all of this, there is still no way to pinpoint exactly where my African ancestors came from. Therefore, I have no direct lineage, specific heritage, language or traditions to lay claim to.
I see ‘African American’ as both ambiguous and limiting at the same time. It’s an ethno-cultural term that has become synonymous with race and “regular Black folks.” It’s used exclusively in reference to Black people in the U.S. who are descendants of the Transatlantic slave trade, yet excludes anyone who is an African immigrant or first-generation citizen–who in my opinion would be most fitting of the title. African American is also very vague and simplified. Africa is a vast continent, made up of various nations, cultures, languages, traditions, etc. So to associate myself namely with the continent, without a specific point of reference, doesn’t bring me any closer to my roots, yet it subtly reinforces the misconception that Africa is a simplistic, homogeneous land.
The history of the term is said to have begun with poet and civil rights activists, Johnny Duncan. In 1987, his poem “I Can” was published in the Black History Calendar. Towards the end of the poem he writes: “The last 4 letters of my African Heritage and American creed spell “I can”!” It was this line that inspired Jesse Jackson to coin the term and he along with other civil rights leaders began to encourage Black people to begin using it shortly after. During a 1988 press conference to discuss a national Black agenda, Jackson confidently announced that Black people now preferred to be called ‘African American,’ opting for an ethnic term opposed to a racial one. He stated that “to be called African American has cultural integrity,” citing groups like Italian Americans and Arab Americans as examples.
While I can understand why one would want to have a distinct cultural identity, the difference between our people and the ethnic groups Jesse Jackson referenced that day to support his statement, is that they all came here willingly, as immigrants. And of course, we did not. In addition to this, we have systematically been far removed from our cultures of origin. Making our ethnicity and nationality far more complex.
Finally, ‘African American’ just does not invoke the same bold pride as Black does. (And I’ve always suspected that was one of the reasons we’ve been encouraged to use it). During the heights of Black consciousness and the Black Power Movement throughout the 60s and 70s, when everything black had previously been associated with inferiority and despair, our people began redefining and embracing it as a means of identification. It took on a spirit of self-pride, self-love, dignity and even resistance. And we began opting out of terms that had been previously imposed on us such as colored and negro.
Black connects me with that struggle. Black also connects me to my people throughout the world, whether they are in South America, the Caribbean, Africa or elsewhere. I identify as Black in terms of race, American (by default) in terms of nationality; always keeping in mind that my ancestry ties me to Africa and the original peoples of this earth. To me, Black unites us beyond our various geographic locations, nationalities or cultures; whereas we can all say we are Black, connected and proud.
Wonder Woman is a community activist and blogger.
She is a proud member of the JustUs League!
She has her own blog site at http://www/wonder2woman.blogspot.com
She also contributes to The Milwaukee Drum, the Black Convo Network, Insane Asylum Blog, and Black Bloggers Connect.
Obama Embraces Keeping Blacks Stuck On The Democrat Plantation
Hate, fear and smear!! “Shame on you Barack Obama!!” – Feb 23, 2008
This is the legacy of the Democrat party and one which President Obama embraces and actually appears to relish. He is quite familiar with the hate, fear and smear art form practiced by his fellow democratic leaders. He uses it with adept frequency. The president flies into crucial swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia with his practiced hanging drawl. He then enchants the black locals with notions of sugar plum government programs that will make their life better, if they give him the same chance they did in 2008.
This is done with no reflection upon their own increasing misery index which just happens to coincide with Obama’s increased abandonment of any job, education, or community safety-net promises made. Instead, it is only through continued black misery indexing upward can Obama and democrats continue their titanium plantation grip upon over 90 percent of America’s black electorate.
Where’s the beef? Where are the jobs?
The goal of democrat plantation politics has been to find a convenient and perpetual target that can be feared, hated, smeared and consequently demonized. Republicans are that target group, which unions, democrat community organizers like Obama, and democrat political machine leaders have made their primary election year goal.
Of course with the compliance of the NAACP, as their contracted plantation house servant, the nefarious and typically highly emotionally charged negative rhetoric rings off of church and community center walls every election season. But what are universally missing are the facts of Republican misdeeds. Emotional sing song rhyming rhetoric is the bait democrat plantation leaders ply to submerge common sense or biblical principles and values learned in the church.
President Obama not only knows this but he is absolutely banking on black mothers and fathers, grandparents and families to not look under the sheets and discover they have been hoodwinked and short-sheeted by Obama and the democrat plantation care takers. To borrow from Obama’s own 2008 words which blacks on the democrat political plantation would do well to remember, “Instead, they’re betting on amnesia. That’s what they’re counting on. They’re counting on that you all forgot. They think that they can run the okey-doke on you. Bamboozle you.”
This is what Obama said to blacks in 2008 about Republican, but look at the facts, and see how the bamboozle practices applies to the plantation democrat caretakers.
First, joblessness in the black community has skyrocketed from 12.1 percent during the last month of the Bush presidency, to as high as 16.3 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July it was reported that black families were hit hardest by unemployment. The rate increased from 13.6% in May to 14.4% in June. In fact, mainstream and black media artfully avoided holding Obama’s hope and change feet to the fire for the abysmal unemployment rate increase of 39.3%, up from 36.5% in June, among black youth 16-to 19.
Instead, Obama and the plantation overseeing democrats came into Ohio and other crucial battleground states diverting attention away from murder rates in Chicago, escalating joblessness in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio and hopelessness in Detroit, and the increasing black poverty 20 percent rate in Virginia from 2010.
Black Americans have to truly take a serious look at themselves, and come to the realization that this nonsensical embrace of plantation charlatan practices by Obama and the democrats is a death sentence for their children’s future.
Think about this, as blacks, you have been told to discard their own misery index which continues to shackle the hopes and dreams of your family. Instead you are spun a myth with no facts. If one were to ask a black democrat plantation resident, what is wrong with a Romney or President Bush, or even a President Reagan or President Nixon, they cannot give one specific fact-based reason. The only practiced response uttered is “They… said he or they hate blacks!”
Did Republican President Lincoln hate blacks when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free black slaves? Did Republican President Eisenhower hate blacks when he sent federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to protect the lives of young black school children or support civil rights bills? Did Republican President Nixon hate blacks when he supported and promoted funding for historically African American colleges, minority-owned businesses, and supporting ill-advised affirmative action programs?
So where is this disconnect in the black community coming from? Why the hate, fear and smear campaigns against republican presidents and candidates?
Democrats truly believe that black people should be handled as if they are less capable of getting voting identification than whites. The democrats believe that blacks would rather listen to emotional fictional tripe from Obama’s cleverly crafted Chicago campaign message makers. Democrats want blacks to ignore their personal pain and anguish that the facts bear out. Democrats want blacks to subdue their misery index; while the outcome of Obama’s failing policies have cost them their homes, their jobs and their children’s future.
Getting free of the chains of the Democrat’s plantation politics is crucial. Instead blacks must reject the withering racial divisiveness of Biden and Obama, and seek solace in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision to not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. They must head towards and not away from King’s devotion to a new national colorblind heritage.
So before Blacks walk into that voting booth or fill out that absentee ballot, they have to have to ask themselves one crucial question. Are you willing to trade continued enslavement of democrat plantation politics for a chance to own your own destiny as an American in a colorblind nation?
On November 6th, what destiny are blacks willing to choose? Will the choice be one of freedom, or one where their freedom and their destiny are planned, government funded, and government determined for them?
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stressed, “Man is man because he is free to operate within a framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives.” Blacks should not let the democrats racial divisive plantation politics determine their destiny. Reject hate, fear and smear. “Shame on you Barack Obama!!”
The decision is yours as to which dream and future you are willing to risk!
Let me know what you think:
Kevin Fobbs began writing professionally in 1975 and has been published in the “New York Times,” “Detroit News,” “Michigan Chronicle,”, “GOPUSA”, “Soul Source” magazine and “Writers Digest” magazine as well as Ann Arbor and Cleveland Examiner. Fobbs obtained a political science and journalism degree from Eastern Michigan University in1978 and attended Wayne State University Law School. He spearheaded and managed state and national campaigns as well as White House Initiatives, including Education, Social Security, Welfare Reform, and Faith-Based Initiatives.
Wonder Woman is a community activist and blogger.
She is a proud member of the JustUs League!
She has her own blog site at wonder2woman.blogspot.com
She also contributes to The Milwaukee Drum, the Black Convo Network, and Black Bloggers Connect.