One of the most fascinating sets of figures I ever came across grabbed my attention forty years ago this month. The Sporting News printed what every member of every qualifying team received in the way of a postseason share. In those four-division days, shares were allocated to teams that finished first, second and third in their respective divisions (a remnant of the old “first-division ” mindset). As you probably know or at least can intuit, the World Series winner got the biggest chunk of the pot, followed by the World Series loser, then the teams that lost their respective LCSes and then the second-place finishers and, at last, the third-place finishers. If there happened to be a tie for third in a given division, then those two teams would split the smallest bonus pool possible.
I mention that last point because in 1975, the Mets and Cardinals tied for third in the N.L. East and split the third-place money. The Sporting News’s printing of the specific amounts given to specific people stayed with me. Now and then, I’d think about strange it was that what seemed like private business was published for all to see. (Then again, we know everybody’s salary these days, even though individual World Series shares stay under wraps). Because I’m a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, or SABR, I have access to The Sporting News archives. Because I’m a curious sort, I searched and pulled up the article I remembered from four decades ago to refresh my memory regarding which Met received which sum.
The 1975 Mets were given $5,707.08. Not per man, but for the whole team to split amongst themselves. Had they finished one game ahead of St. Louis and attained sole possession of third place, their pot would’ve doubled. Had they finished one game behind, alone in fourth, they would’ve received bupkes. As it was, the spoils of finishing third, even in 1975 terms, didn’t add up all that lucratively.
The most any Met got on that 82-80 club, as determined by a vote among players who populated the roster the bulk of the year, was $136.70, a decent bit of change in the pockets of major leaguers at the end of the reserve clause era, but not what you think of when you think of a “World Series share”. Tom Seaver was awarded $136.70. So was rookie Randy Tate. So was utility infielder Jack Heidemann. Twenty-four players took home the Met maximum, as did interim manager Roy McMillan, dismissed manager Yogi Berra, five coaches (including Willie Mays), two trainers, clubhouse man Herb Norman, the grounds crew (The Sporting News lists them as a unit, so presumably Pete Flynn and the lads had to split $136.70 in an equitable fashion), four batboys (also apparently in receipt of one share for the quartet to divide) and a pair of batting practice pitchers.
You could get less. Half-shares of $68.35 went to clubhouse man Jimmy McMahon and five players who were around for only part of the year, including eleven-season veteran Cleon Jones, who was released in July; you’d figure the man who caught the last out of the first World Series the franchise won would rate at least as much as Tom McKenna and Joe Deer (your 1975 trainers). If that doesn’t sound very generous, you could do worse. Quarter-shares of $34.17 were voted to three players who weren’t on the roster very long, most notably the best Met of the season’s final six weeks, Mike Vail, he of the 23-game National League rookie-record hitting streak.
Vail shouldn’t have felt bad, however. His Met teammates could have voted him even less. Five Mets of limited tenure/performance were sent checks of $27.34, or one-fifth shares. One of those Mets was Ron Hodges, two years removed from his 1973 heroics and in the midst of a dozen-year Met career (but summering at Tidewater most of ’75). Another of those one-fifth Mets never even played as a Met: Jerry Moses, the former American League All-Star catcher who briefly alighted on the active roster and sat tight for several weeks. Before he could enter a game in orange and blue, his contract was sold to San Diego. He must’ve been a heckuva clubhouse presence, though, because months after the fact, he was voted a little something for his trouble.
A very little something, but something nonetheless.
Baseball players aren’t always so thoughtful toward their sic transit teammates. Life may be too short to be considerate. Last year, Jim Caple examined how teams distribute their postseason booty  and found a range of impulses, from the exceedingly generous to the, shall we say, exclusive. Former outfielder Chili Davis, who’d been in on a number of these meetings, told Caple the discussions often come down to, “Do you give the guys a full share or do you break up a share and give them an eighth each?” Davis remembered instances when the players who made the call would “name a guy who came up with the team for two days or something” and ask, “‘What do we give him?’” A not uncommon reply, according to Chili: “‘Fuck it, give him a McDonald’s gift certificate.’”
On the other hand, as Caple wrote, there was the action of the 2007 Rockies, who voted a full pennant-winning share to the widow of Double-A coach Mike Coolbaugh, who had been killed after absorbing a line drive to the head during a game that season. Then-Rockie and future Met LaTroy Hawkins explained, “She had several small kids. She was pregnant, and he had lost his life on the baseball field. His family loved baseball. We just wanted to show we were thinking about them and wanted to help.”
It didn’t take such tragic circumstances for Rickey Henderson to dig deep. As Mike Piazza recalled in his memoir , “whenever the discussion came around to what we should give one of the fringe people — whether it was a minor leaguer who came up for a few days or the parking lot attendant — Rickey would shout out, ‘Full share!’ We’d argue for a while, and he’d say, ‘Fuck that! You can change somebody’s life!’” Piazza admitted that while he “admired Rickey’s heart,” he “usually came down somewhere in the middle”.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to divvy up a pie, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for who gets an enormous slice and who gets the crumbs…at least in real life I wouldn’t. But here, in the aftermath of the first time in nine years that the Mets earned their way into the postseason money, I will.
Here are my rules:
• The manager, coaches, batboys — not my problem, at least initially. Let ownership sell a building and take care of them properly. My primary job in this exercise is to reward the 50 players who were active for the Mets in 2015.
• The pot is the same one the Mets received for placing in runner-up position in the World Series : $16,771,715.82, which represents approximately 24% of the postseason revenue directed toward the players on all playoff teams (the Royals, those bastards, received about 40%).
• I will be guided by custom, but not bound by it.
OK, here I go, giving out $16,771,715.82…
Yoenis Cespedes: Considering he was very recently named Most Valuable Met of 2015  by Faith and Fear in Flushing, he should get the largest share. I’m putting him down for $600,000, or a nice, little going-away present.
David Wright: The Captain missed much of the season, but he’s The Captain. A Captain’s share of $500,000 for No. 5.
Curtis Granderson, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores. They were our other plausible MVM candidates. That should be worth $450,000 apiece.
Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese: All of them were on the Opening Day roster, played the entire year (except when injured) and made the postseason roster for each round. $400,000 per man.
Ruben Tejada, Carlos Torres, Sean Gilmartin: Tejada was Utleyed out of everything after Game Two of the NLDS. Torres never went on the DL (his staying power was legendary  until it wasn’t) but a September strain effectively removed him from postseason consideration. Gilmartin nurtured his Rule 5 presence clear to the end of the regular season, but he was cast aside for the NLDS, only to return for the next two rounds. They all just missed stalwart status. $350,000 each.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: A Met, then an Angel, then a Met, with some DL and Triple-A time thrown in. Made the most of his scant production, lasted through the World Series. $300,000. (FYI, $300,000 was mentioned in various reports as the actual average Met share.)
Kevin Plawecki, Hansel Robles, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Michael Conforto: Five rookies who came up during the course of the year, five rookies who made the World Series roster. $275,000 each.
Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed: Midseason acquisitions who contributed tangibly. $250,000 each.
Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Anthony Recker: Thank you for your service. $200,000 each.
Eric Young, Jr.: Another Met who wore the scars of less bountiful campaigns, EYJ was brought back from the Braves to pinch-run in the postseason; pinch-ran very well in September (no hits; nine runs!); and was left off the postseason roster. $175,000.
Erik Goeddel: I didn’t quite get why he made the NLDS roster over Gilmartin. Made one appearance vs. Dodgers, got lit up, left with ERA of infinity, was replaced by Gilmartin in advance of NLCS. But pretty good in spots during season. $125,000.
John Mayberry, Jr., Eric Campbell, Alex Torres: Synonymous with the part of the season that did not scream “pennant,” but somebody had to take those swings and pitch those innings. $100,000 each.
Logan Verrett: Filled the thankless role on the staff. $90,000.
Buddy Carlyle, Jerry Blevins, Dario Alvarez: Relatively few innings, enormously important outs. $80,000 each.
Dilson Herrera, Darrell Ceciliani: A key hit or two during their respective brief stays. $75,000 each.
Johnny Monell: Also a key hit or two, though I find it hard to believe. $50,000.
Jenrry Mejia: Limited to seven appearances, mostly by his own PED-fueled decision-making. They were seven good appearances, for what it was worth…which we’ll say is $700.
Rafael Montero, Danny Muno, Tim Stauffer, Jack Leathersich: For these bit players, the same full shares disbursed to the 1975 Mets. $136.70 each.
Matt Reynolds: Like Jerry Moses, he was activated but never used. We’ll follow Moses on this one. $27.34.
Eric O’Flaherty: McDonald’s gift certificates — now known as Arch Cards  — come in various denominations. We’ll be sports and go for the second-highest. $25.00.
All right, then. I have distributed $12,006,422.83, which leaves $4,765,292.99. So tell ya what, here’s $4,000,000 for Terry, his coaches, the batting practice pitchers and catchers and everybody else who had a non-playing hand in making 2015 happen. They can figure out who gets what. I’m sure a lot of people worked hard to get this team pennant-ready. Hopefully, $4 million covers them.
Of the remaining $765,292.99, let’s cut Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin and Vic Black in for $21,764.33 apiece. Wheeler, Edgin and probably Black would have been on the team (and been more useful than O’Flaherty) if not for injury. Twists of fate did them in.
We have $700,000 left. Let’s do the right thing and direct $100,000 to Rusty Staub’s New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund  and another $100,000 to Tuesday’s Children . Both organizations have strong Met connections.
As for the final half-a-million…pick a Mets fan at random, someone who’s given roughly $500,000 worth of his or her soul (and who knows how much of his or her income?) to the cause of supporting this team through thin and finally thick. It would be a superb gesture and, as Rickey said, you can change somebody’s life.