Elijah Dukes is not quite as noble as we thought

I felt that the $500 fine levied on Elijah Dukes for being a couple of minutes late to Saturday’s game against the Marlins as a result of signing autographs for Little Leaguers was pretty lame. Sure, Dukes technically broke a rule, and sure he’s a guy you want to give a shorter leash than many, but he was giving back to the community and all of that, right? Well, kinda:

Dukes, who was paid $500 for his appearance, signed autographs, watched the parade of teams and spoke to the players for about a minute. He then sprinted to his car and headed to the ballpark, the Post reported.

Dukes charged the Little Leaguers $500?! Is this normal? Even if it is, doesn’t this change our sympathy calculus a bit? What if he was at a baseball card show? Sure, the money would have been different, but he’s still essentially out there making a buck as opposed to feeding the homeless or something. In fact, now that I think about it more, I think that Dukes should definitely be paying his $500 fine in the interests of balance. Indeed, he should pay it to the Little Leaguers!

But he won’t pay the fine himself. The Great Falls Little League, where he was speaking prior to the game, says it will pay it for him after a fundraising effort, according to The Washington Post.

Or not.

If Dukes accepts this money, in effect doubling his dubious appearance fee, there will be no words that can sufficiently describe the sheer fail on his part.

(Thanks to MooseinOhio, who not only sent me the link, but who made the above point too. Get me, I’m a bigger ripoff artist than Dukes).

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  1. Josh said...

    Are we sure there wasn’t a mix-up; i.e., Dukes wasn’t actually paid $500 for the appearance—that figure came from the league’s statement offering to pay the fine?

  2. Pete Toms said...

    Didn’t RTA or any of the articles on this subject but I have been seeing the headlines.  Nonetheless I have an opinon.  We all know Dukes, due to his immaturity and irresponsibility, is broke.  I think his agents keep him afloat knowing that if he fulfills his potential there will be a big payoff for everyone.  All that to say, I think at this point he really needs the $500.

  3. John said...

    Players always charge for this stuff.  See Bouton and the boys talk about it “Ball Four”
    His fee is probably much higher than 500.00 for a mall opening.  These fees keep also help weed out the all the crazy demands on their time.

    Why is Elijah charging 500.00 for his time and gas to meet kids any different that a keynote speaker at a charity event charging and honorarium?

  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Because there’s a different bond between a Major League ballplayer and little leaguers than there is between Regis Philbin and the East Alton, IL Rotary Club?  Or at least there should be. Major Leaguers aren’t obligated to do anything, but I’d like to think that if I were one I’d at least show up for the Little Leaguers for free.  Yes, I realize that’s not a very rational argument, but I’m entitled to those once in a while.

    More rationally, I’d say it’s because Dukes, in defending himself from the fine is saying “hey, I was out giving back to the community!” When in fact he wasn’t really doing that. He was making a paid personal appearance.

  5. Josh said...


    Signing bonus included, Dukes had made something shy of $1.5MM in his short career. I think it’s entirely plausible he’s short on cash.

  6. Josh said...

    1.5 million, with agent fees, high marginal tax rate, family, child support payments, youth and irresponsibility?  Hell yeah he could be broke.

  7. Ron said...

    Isn’t the Little League a charitable (or at leaset non-profit) organization?

    If so, they have a legal requirement to spend a certain amount of money each year, and getting ballplayers to come do this sort of thing is the best way to do, as it is applicable to the organization.

    You would hope the ballplayes would donate that money to charity, and we don’t know Dukes wasn’t going to do that. Probably not, but lets hear his side.

    But if any organization invited any of us bloggers to come give a talk about what we do to a journalism class at the local high school, and then said there was a $500 fee involved, how many of us would be more likely to go then, instead of not going at all?

    I’m not necessarily going to give Dukes a chance, but he did go.

    How many major league players wouldn’t?

  8. Pete Toms said...

    Josh, this guy is the poster boy for irresponsible pro athletes. (well, Travis Henry is, but this is a baseball blog).  I read a number of pieces detailing his problems in meeting his child support obligations and the guy was literally broke.  Even the lawyers for the mother(s) of his children admitted it.  My favorite part, a woman who he has 2 (IIRC) kids with – the same family he threatened to kill – has (or had at that time) some pending litigation with him over child support for a 3rd child that wasn’t accounted for when child support was finalized for the first 2 kids.  JERRY! JERRY! JERRY! Why don’t these fools get snipped?

  9. Beanster said...

    Elijah did earn his money – acc. to the Washington Post part of the gig was sitting through a parade of FIFTY FOUR little league teams and signing autographs, which works out to less than $1 per!

  10. Beanster said...

    Just to be clear on the math, I’m dividing the $500 fee by 54 teams and assuming at least 9.259 players per squad to get to $1 per player (or autograph, but it would be hard to validate how many he signed).

  11. Hank said...

    “If Dukes accepts this money, in effect doubling his dubious appearance fee, there will be no words that can sufficiently describe the sheer fail on his part.”

    This is a bit over the top… why do writers constantly hyperbolize everything?  If I wasn’t so bored, I’d stop reading this stuff.

  12. Janson said...

    What’s amazing is that you figure $500 for a ballplayer is a joke in comparison with the league average, even the league minimum, right?

    But when I think about getting a $500 fine for showing up for work late, I’d puke. $500 is serious money for most of us. And if Dukes is broke, $500 is serious food money to him too.

    Anyway. It goes to show you should take nothing for granted…

  13. Brett Myers said...

    What’s amazing is that the league and its parents thought, “Hey, now that Steve Howe & Denny McClain are dead, Lenny Dykstra is on the lamb,  and Dwight Gooden’s too expensive, who should we get to come speak to the kids? how about Elijah Dukes!”

  14. Chris said...

    Even more egregious is Manny Acta’s comments in the Post piece that indicate that the team is more than willing to accept the Little League’s money!

    (It might be worth noting, too, that Great Falls is the kind of town where one or two of the parents could go to their BMW SUVs and find $500 in cash laying under the seat)

  15. MooseinOhio said...

    I guess for me the issue was more that a major leaguer was accepting money to speak to little leaguers at a local event.  I understand appearnance fees and covering travel costs but this was at a local event so why does a little league need to pay a player to spend some time inspiring kids. 

    Apparently my assumption that visits such as these or to the local hospital were just considered part of the gig when a professional athlete.  My intent was not to pick on Dukes specifically but to question why a major leaguer needs to accept money to spend a little time with some little leaguers. 

    To me this type of visit qualifies as charity work and is done for free.  Maybe my definitions of charity and charity work are just different.

  16. Jeffrey said...

    I think the Little League event was a fund raiser, so they pay alittle to get some celebrity buzz going for the crowd.  This is common if not universal now—-charity events, etc., part of ‘being’ a celebrity.

  17. Hank said...

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but I was wondering how much charity work you do.  Personally I have a problem with anybody deciding what somebody else should be doing, especially when they don’t do themselves what they want others to do.  So many writers sit back and are moral commentators on players and their actions.  Honestly in general, I wish people spent more time holding themselves to higher standards than criticizing others.

  18. MooseinOhio said...

    No offense taken Hank and I understand your point that there are lots of folks out there who are quick to criticize while ignoring their own shortcomings.  As for my commitment level for such work – it is probably higher than most folks but could still be better.  I suspect that if you ask the folks that know me the hypocrite label you are describing would not apply.

  19. GWR said...

    Enough. Seriously.
    At least he was there. $500 fee for the little league is not a lot for them. Lets be serious.

    As far as I know Jimmy Rollins, Dan Haren and Prince Fielder only do stuff with the kids when there is a film crew around. I don’t know. If not for being ‘late’ to batting practice nobody outside of that town would have ever known anything about what Dukes was doing. Whether he was paid or not he is trying.

  20. Ameer said...

    I really don’t think this should be a bid deal and we really shouldn’t be judging the guy based on this.  I highly doubt he called the Little League team on his own accord and said, “Hey guys!  I’ll sign autographs for 500 bucks!”  Most likely the team contacted him, asked if he would make an appearance and told him $500 was the standard offer, and he agreed to it.  Let’s not sit here and judge a guy for something this stupid.  I know Dukes has has a pretty ugly past, but he’s been pretty quiet for about a year now.  Give the guy a chance to live his life.  If he sends another threatening text message to his ex-wife, then we can talk about what a sleazy thing he did.  OK?

  21. Ron said...

    The team and the league don’t get the money.

    All fine money goes to charity, as per the CBA.

    So, actually, everyone but Dukes is coming out ahead.

  22. Joe said...

    You got this all wrong.

    Where was it ever stated he charged $500 to make an appearance? He didn’t. He showed up free, and was fined $500 by the Nationals for showing up late to the game.

    Research your facts before you start making assumptions about Elijah Dukes. IIRC, this is the ONLY article I’ve read so far that hasn’t stated he showed up for free.

  23. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Joe:  the linked article specifically said “Dukes, who was paid $500 for his appearance”

    I blockquoted that part, I didn’t make it up myself. If you want to take issue with that assertion, take it up with ESPN.

  24. kevin said...

    Dukes is entitled to an appearance fee if the Little League is willing to pay it. But many athletes do small-scale charity events for free. The bigger issue, from my perspective, is that Dukes seemed to handle the situation just right. He was gracious at the event and stayed longer than he’d promised—even at the risk of a fine from the Nationals.

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