Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13th, 1940

Jack Aker Born

One of the more interesting things about the modern age of baseball players--even rather average ones--making huge money is that their post-career life is entirely one of leisure. That's not to say that all retired ballplayers spend their time sitting on a beach somewhere drinking a piƱa colada, but a lot of them could, if so inclined. Whereas some players of the past were coaches because they loved the game and had something to teach, many were coaches simply because that was all they knew. Others went into real estate, or the lecture circuit, but everyone save the superstars had to do something; the money from baseball just wasn't good enough to hold one over after his career.

Jack Aker is a classic example of this. Although his career numbers (11 years, just under 750 innings and a 3.28 ERA) aren't overwhelming, he managed some really good seasons in his time, leading the league in saves in 1966 and finishing in the top ten five other times. Had he been lucky enough to live in the post-reserve clause age, and have one of his good years just prior to free agency Aker would likely have signed a contract that, if well invested (and well hidden from the taxman by a clever but law-abiding CPA) would have allowed him to spend the rest of his life in comfortable, if not opulent, surroundings never having worked another day in his life.

Of course, some of us were just born at the wrong time, and such was the case with Aker. Not having ever signed a multi-million dollar contract, he had to find some way to keep himself solvent. Like so many others, Aker went into coaching, but Aker's players are, shall we say, slightly below the Major League level.

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