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Guest columnist Gene Stamell: What this classroom teacher and Bogaerts have in common

  • Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts in June. AP



Thursday, July 14, 2022

Xander Bogaerts and I have more in common than one might expect. The Red Sox shortstop is recognized as one of the best at his position, ranked fifth in all of baseball. Over the course of nine seasons with the Sox, he has hit for an average of .295, with an on-base percentage of .355. He also hits for power. While an average defensive player, Bogie is, without question, a fine overall ballplayer.

While no longer in the prime of my career (I am retired!), I, too, received very high marks for my job performance. Over an elementary school teaching career that spanned 41 years, I was never evaluated as less than “Outstanding,” the highest possible rating. Many parents lobbied school principals for their children to be in my classroom (these were well-off parents who weren’t shy about expressing their desires), and I was respected by my colleagues for my creativity and commitment to excellence. (Email me for references.) I was a fine, overall teacher.

Bogaerts is in the final year of his current contract. Realizing how much he and I have in common, I was quite interested to read that he has rejected the Red Sox offer of a multiyear deal worth $25 million per year. PER YEAR! For some perspective, in my 41 years of teaching, I estimate that I have earned $2.4 million — TOTAL. Don’t get me wrong; I live a perfectly comfortable life. I don’t lack for anything, and I’m sure Xander would say the same.

But let’s look at this from a different perspective. If healthy (by the way, Bogie gets paid his full salary no matter how many games he misses), Bogaerts plays in 162 games per year; including spring training, let’s call it 180. At $25 million, he would earn $138,888 per game. If we assume each game has nine innings, he would make $15,432 per inning. And given that an average major league game lasts 3 hours and 10 minutes, his hourly pay would come out to $41,666 — not bad, considering he spends half of each game on the bench, resting and, I assume, mentally preparing for his next at-bat.

Bear with me here, for I do not begrudge Bogaerts his fair share. Well, that’s not quite true, as I believe no one in America should be allowed to earn more than, say, $5 million per year. What do people do with that kind of money? Do they shop in markets that charge $200 for a loaf of rye or a head of romaine? Forgive me — I’m straying off topic, and the topic, to remind you, is the similarity between Bogaerts and me.

The average major league baseball player earned $4.17 million in 2021.

Bogaets turned down an offer worth six times that amount. Recently, I have been substitute teaching in an elementary school not far from my home. I make $100 a day, around $14 per hour. Given that my credentials, experience and expertise are comparable to those of Bogaerts, I have come to a rather radical decision: I will approach the school board and request a special dispensation, a pay rate higher than all other substitutes in the district. Using Bogie as my model, I will request $700 per day, seven times what I am now earning.

This, of course, might be a hard sell for school board members. It could also cause quite a stir at the elementary school, where the highest paid, full-time teacher earns less than half that amount. But can’t the same be said for the Red Sox team, where players making a mere $700,000 spit and smear pine tar alongside those with salaries in the $20 million-$30 million range? And they all seem to be smiling in the dugout — one happy, wealthy family.

I am not concerned with the potential fallout. I trust my people skills and would pledge to do the very best job I can do. And unlike Xander Bogaerts, who refuses to play any position other than shortstop, I, at $700 a day, would happily accept any assignment given to me, including lunch and recess duties.

Under this arrangement, the school retains a highly-qualified substitute teacher and I get what I deserve.

A win-win proposal, to be sure. Now, how to present this to the school board?

Gene Stamell lives in Leverett.