Darcy Fast: Man of God, "Missing Cub" and Lost Boy of Baseball

Categories: Sports
Driving through Arizona to catch some spring training games, Darcy Fast says via his cell phone of baseball's annuity plan for the lost boys of summer like him, "I don't think it's fair."

A Chicago Cubs pitcher whose darts lived up to his last name in 1967-68, Fast says baseball and the players union pay him about $2,000 a year, after taxes and through 2016.

"I really think it's basically a token more for goodwill for Major League Baseball than it is to really help the ballplayers in need," the 65-year-old says of the payment plan at the center of today's feature "The Lost Boys of Summer." "I don't necessarily consider myself in real need, but . . . there are players who really are not making it."

More than the yearly payments, the 65-year-old believes those guys should gain access to the MLB medical plan, something that was more critical when he began taking this issue on years ago. Since the fight began, many players from his era are now old enough to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid.

"I just think that's the greatest need for people our age, and that has just not come about," Fast says. "I just don't think it's right you can play one day in Major League Baseball (from 1980 on) to receive health benefits or play 47 days to become fully vested into the Major League Baseball pension" while players with equal or more service from his era are bound by longer lengths of time required under previous union contracts.

"You compare that to when I was playing ball, and you have to have five years of Major League Baseball service, then it went to four years through the collective bargaining agreements from that time. They have never brought the group of us into that picture.

"There was not even a disabled list when we played. Guys played hurt. They got cortisone shots or did anything to stay in the game because they felt someone was coming to take their position. Now, there is a disabled list. I'm not saying that's bad. There are all these things going on today to take care of players. So why not at least help those guys from the era I played in? They helped get the game to where it is today, and they've basically been forgotten."

Pulling into the ballpark, Fast mentions, "I love baseball. I'm going to a game today. I've talked with ballplayers today, and they can't really believe it hasn't been taken care of. Basically, it is something that has not been talked about that much with current ballplayers."

Fast notes that every spring, a union rep visits each team and its player rep to give overviews of the current contract and grievances. "I've talked with friends," he says, "and they can't even remember [the pension issue] being discussed once."

He has the ears of many in today's clubhouses not only because of his baseball career or due to his remaining active with the Major League Baseball Alumni Association. Fast left the game in his prime for the pulpit.

Drafted as a first baseman by the New York Yankees in 1965, he went to Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon, instead. Drafted again in 1967, this time as a pitcher by the Chicago Cubs, he signed.

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