The final week of Major League Baseball’s regular season provided an unexpected lesson in ethics when both a player and a team both chose to do the right thing, even though it would cost them half a million dollars.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes was one out away from triggering a $500,000 bonus in his contract when a long rain delay prevented him from staying in a game Sept. 24 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his last scheduled start of the season, Hughes pitched the first eight innings before the rain delay, leaving him one-third of an inning short of hitting the 210 innings for the season that would have earned him the bonus.
Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, who was fired after the season due to the teams win-loss struggles in recent years, said the next day the Twins were willing to let Hughes pitch again before the end of the season—showing class in not letting the rain delay be the final deciding factor in whether or not Hughes would reach the 210 innings needed for the bonus. But it was Hughes who decided against taking the mound again simply to earn the bonus.
“I just didn’t think it was right,” Hughes told reporters the next day. “If I were fighting for a playoff spot, I’d be 100 percent available. But given the circumstances, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
Admittedly, while $500,000 is nothing to sneeze at, the Twins ace did earn an $8 million salary this season, and had already earned a pair of $250,000 bonuses for reaching 180 and 195 innings pitched.