Jeremy Affeldt makes $6 million a year pitching for the San Francisco Giants, and reportedly has grossed at least $30 million since joining the major leagues in 2002. But all of that money hasn't gone to his head. And some of it didn't even stay in his bank account, once Affeldt realized it wasn't his to keep.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle examined Tuesday what happened when Affeldt discovered in 2010 that he was being overpaid $500,000 because of a clerical error the Giants made when typing up his contract:
Affeldt got three opinions saying the contract was ironclad and he could keep the extra $500,000, from the Players Association, agent Michael Moye and even Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans.
Affeldt recalled Moye telling him, "You know what? As your agent I've got to tell you that legally you can keep it. As a man who represents integrity, I'm saying you should give it back."
And that's what Affeldt said he did, redoing the contract with the $500,000 excised.
"I talked to Bobby the next day and said, 'I can't take that money,' " Affeldt said. " 'I won't sleep well at night knowing I took that money because every time I open my paycheck I'll know it's not right.' "
Affeldt's two-year contract extension called for him to be paid a total of $10 million, so the unintended bonus of $500,000 represents 5 percent. That would be a significant chuck of change to Joe Average.
Schulman's note was prompted by Affeldt telling the story in a book he recently published — "To Stir a Movement" — which chronicles Affeldt's goal, as a person of faith, in defeating social injustices, most notably human trafficking.
Being overpaid by accident and keeping the money might not be as destructive of an act as slavery, but it's still a sin. And Affeldt, who identifies as a Christian, seems to be a moral person.
This might be the best example possible of why it can be OK for kids to look up to Major League Baseball players as role models. Not in the sense of trying to be a pitcher, or trying to make a lot of money. And Affeldt certainly sets a bad example at the BBQ grill, and his hugging skills sometimes fail. But he did the right thing when the time came. Everyone who has a son or daughter should hope their kid would do what Affeldt did with this kind of found money.
Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk
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