A major windfall


Did you ever wonder what a few days in the big leagues is worth? Well, here's the scoop:

The Orioles have used three players this year, Richie Lewis, Tommy Shields and Jack Voigt, who had never performed in the big leagues. Lewis totaled 10 days in his two stays, Shields and Voigt had half that time.

The salary for 10 days in the big leagues (prorated from the $109,000 minimum) is $5,989. A player's cut of the licensing money (from baseball properties) for the same period is $3,846. A full cut of the licensing money this year is estimated to be just under $70,000 -- or 64 percent of the minimum salary.

In addition, in the cases of Lewis, Shields and Voigt, when they were returned to the minor leagues, they got a salary raise prorated to the $29,000 minimum for a player who came from the big leagues.

It's possible that a 10-day stay in the big leagues, for those who have never been there, could be worth more than $20,000. For Shields, it was enough to persuade him to postpone graduate school for at least another year while he gave baseball one last shot.

Players also are immediately vested in the Major League Baseball Players Association pension plan starting with their first day of service. However, a player must accumulate at least 43 days in the big leagues to be eligible to receive a retirement check down the road.

Under the current Basic Agreement, a player with 43 days in the big leagues would be eligible at age 55 to receive $93 a month for life.

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