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Three New York Yankees’ replacement players to get $25,000 each

March 20, 1997

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ Three New York Yankees replacement players each will receive $25,000 and World Series rings though the regular players who had been on strike opposed the idea.

The players are being rewarded by owner George Steinbrenner at the urging of general manager Bob Watson, The Record of Hackensack reported today.

Watson said it was ``an injustice″ to deny Dale Polley, Dave Pavlas and Matt Howard a part of the World Series jackpot the Yankees received for winning.

The three players will also participate in the ring ceremony at Yankee Stadium next month.

``It’s our way of correcting something that was very wrong,″ Watson said.

The three were among those who played in exhibition games in the spring of 1995 when the major league players were on strike. All replacement players were released that April 1, the day before the season began.

Yankees players, after a bitter debate last fall, excluded the three when World Series shares were voted.

Polley told The Record that Steinbrenner’s decision ``closes the issue once and for all. At least I hope so.″

The club had been divided on whether the replacement players should get rewarded for the team’s World Series victory. Yankees’ union loyalists David Cone and Jim Leyritz were against giving the replacement players anything. In a vote, the union loyalists won out.

Manager Joe Torre has said he was opposed to the union’s position. At the team’s victory parade, Torre told Watson what had happened.

``Until that point, I had no idea they were being punished,″ Watson said. ``I felt I had to take some action.″

Watson took the issue to Steinbrenner.

``I was part of a management group that said to these players, `Come work for us,‴ Watson explained. ``We encouraged this. So to ignore them after the fact would’ve been wrong on my part. The amount of money being paid is Mr. Steinbrenner’s decision, but I felt we had to do something for these guys.″

All three replacement players were given their release by the Yankees, but re-signed during the offseason with the promise of the $25,000 bonus. Because Pavlas, Polley, and Howard returned to the team that released them, they must remain in the minor leagues until at least May 15.

That means the players are back in the same clubhouse with most of the same players who voted against them.′

``There hasn’t been any incidents,″ Polley said. ``Not even one.″

The replacements lost a key ally in reliever John Wetteland, who wrote a personal check for what Pavlas called ``a substantial amount.″

Wetteland, now with the Texas Rangers, said he felt compelled to help the replacement players.

``I decided to take care of it in my own way,″ Wetteland said. ``It just felt like the right thing to do. These guys helped us get to the World Series; they were an important part of the bullpen. Once I thought of it objectively that way, it became an easier choice for me.″

Cone felt the opposite way. He is the Yankee’s player rep, and the American League rep on the union’s executive council.

Cone said he voted against the replacement players ``because we wanted to remember the players who lost their jobs as a result of the replacement players.″

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