Phil Hughes – The Right Thing To Do #$500,000

Phil Hughes

The Story: Despite the dramatic finish to the baseball season (sorry to my friend Mark Wills, who waited 29 years to see KC return to the post-season), I was more struck by another baseball story that occurred in the final week of the regular season.  Phil Hughes, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, was pitching his final start of the year against the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the end of the 8th inning, he felt good, his pitch count was low and he had only given up one run.  There was no reason that he couldn’t or wouldn’t finish the game off in the 9th inning.  That is, however, until the rains came, forcing a one hour delay.  A long delay is the worst enemy of a pitcher because it is dangerous to warm up the arm muscles, cool them down and then warm them up again to throw at full velocity. So, as expected, Hughes did not return when the game resumed.

More to the Story: I know, I know… it’s not much of story.  But, what if I told you that Phil Hughes was slated to receive a $500,000 bonus if he pitched 210 innings for the season.  And, what if I told you that he had completed 209 2/3 innings at the end of the 8th inning that day. That’s right, he was 1 out away from earning a bonus worth half a million dollars. When asked about the bonus, Hughes said, “I was very aware of the bonus.” Can you imagine being that close to earning $500,000 and have mother nature interrupt those plans.  Not fair, right?

Social Media Intervenes: The story got legs as most “regular Joe’s” out there felt empathy for Phil Hughes. While most people can’t identify with a $500,000 bonus, they could identify with this feeling of “unfairness” in this scenario. In social media circles, the Minnesota Twins were looking like the bad guy. So management offered to let Hughes pitch a short stint in one of the final two games, which would qualify him for his bonus.  Not a bad gesture from an organization that can easily afford this money.

The Twist: Phil Hughes turns down the Twin’s Offer, saying, “That was very generous and it says a lot about this organization, but given the circumstances, it wasn’t the right thing to do.” In other words, he believes that it would be ethically wrong to put his monetary gains ahead of the team goals. “If this had happened in the normal course of the season… but it is what it is.” He ended his interview by saying, “There’s a lot bigger problems out there,” implying that issues like Ebola, terrorists and upcoming elections are more pressing than a millionaire baseball player losing out on some more cash.

Author’s Perspective: I think everyone did the right thing here. The fans displayed empathy, management showed compassion and Phil Hughes displayed humility and selflessness.  Look at all of those character traits in one story.  It just had to be a blog. I just want to one-up everyone with this suggestion – how about donating the $500,000 bonus to charity?  Generosity is a pretty good trait too.

Your Turn: Please place your comments below, (2) like and share our Facebook page (character development & leadership) or (3) tweet to @CDandLeadership)

1.  Yes, he gets paid a lot of money to play a game, but a half a million is a half a million.  Would you have turned down the money?  Why or why not?

2. Do you think everyone did the “right thing” in this situation or could someone have done something different?

Comments 44

  1. I think i wouldnt have taken it, the risk of getting injured was higher than normal and that could mess up a lot more than his bonus. I think everyone did the right thing.

  2. I would’ve turned down the money because like he said, it wasn’t meant to be. I would’ve said that I could’ve performed better in an earlier game and pitched more innings. It’s not about money it’s about doing what’s best for the organization.
    I think the right thing was done by everyone in this situation. I don’t know what happened after but to go above and beyond they could’ve donated the 500,000 to a charity like the author said.

  3. I would have taken the money because half a million dollars is alot of money for a 17 year old and that means college could be paid for.

    Yes, everyone made the right choice

  4. I would have taken the money because it’s half a million dollars. I think that everyone did the right thing because the organization did give him an extra chance which is a good thing because it wasn’t his fault that it got rained out and he couldn’t pitch.

  5. I think I would have also not taken the money because that would have made me seem like a person who is only interested in money. I think everyone did do the right thing in this story.

  6. I don´t really know what I would have done, in the moment I probably would have sat on the bench too because at that point money does not matter, it´s just about winning the game.
    I think everyone did do the right thing.

  7. If I was in his shoes and still getting paid pretty well anyways compared to the average person, I wouldn’t have taken it because agreeing to pitch one time in order to receive those $500,000 would be more for greed. I think it was nice of the organization to give him that offer but i’m sure they only did it because they were receiving hate from fans and felt pressured. But i think Hughes did the right thing in honoring his contract.

  8. I’m not sure what I would do in the situation he was in. It would be a tough situation because that is a good amount of money that would be hard to earn, but at the same time getting that money you didn’t work for it.
    I think that everyone did do the right thing.

  9. 1) I would have not taken the money. The best feeling in the world is the feeling when you do the right thing and have people commend you about it.

    2) I believe everyone did the right thing.

  10. 1. If I’d been offered half a million dollars, I’d have half a million dollars

    2. I believe everyone did the “right thing” in the situation. The organization offered him a chance to get the money, Phil denied because it was wrong.

  11. I wouldn’t know what to do because a part of me would feel like its not right but the other part of me would take the money.
    I believe everyone did the right thing.

  12. 1. I wouldn’t have turned down the money because I would have gave the money to people in need
    2. I think everyone did the right thing in this situation

  13. I would take the money because even if I get hurt i still get paid for the year

    yes because if he already makes 500,000 a year he can live off that easy

  14. 1) I wouldn’t have turned this amount of money because it would take the average person 10 years to make this amount.

    2)I do think everyone is doing the right thing here and I don’t think anything should have been done differently.

  15. I would have taken the money because that is a lot of money and I would take the chance of getting hurt or it raining for the money. Yes, everyone did the right thing.

  16. I would have taken the money because well it’s a lot of money. If it had rained 2 times before I would have to think if I should or not because it could rain and I would not get the money. I believe that everyone did the right thing. They saw that he lost his chance and gave him another opportunity to get the money. He gave up the chance because he thought it wasn’t right to take another persons shot to go.

  17. I would turn down the money because it’s not fair to my team or the program and I wouldn’t need it to live comfortably. I think everyone did the right thing.

  18. I would have taken the money I don’t feel like it would of been wrong and to double your salary just a by pitching one inning.
    I think that either situation would have been right the team gave him a opurtunity and he denied it wich is fine but I don’t think it would have been wrong to take the money as well.

  19. If I was in his situation I would have taken the money, purely because of my family that I have to support.

    Yes everyone did do the right thing, people were generous, Phil was selfless, fans were understanding.

  20. I probably would’ve taken the money, I would only need one to come out of the game, I believe if I was in that position my teammates wouldn’t have minded me pitching a third of an inning, and that’s a lot of money. I believe everyone did the right thing.

  21. I think I would take the money if I were in the case of having a family so I could give them the best life possible.

    Everyone did the right thing.

  22. I proabably would have taken the money because it would be an easy extra $500,000.

    I do think everyone did the right thing in this situation.

  23. I would not have gone pitch and take the money because I would be making a lot of money already. I think they did the right thing by giving him a chance to complete the goal.

  24. I would have taken the money. I would like to think that I wouldn’t but I know if I was put in that situation I would take it.
    I think everyone did the right thing and I don’t think they should have done anything differently. I also don’t think that if he would have taken the money it would be the wrong thing either.

  25. I would have turned down the money because its not fair to his team mates and i wouldn’t think it would be the right thing to do as of taking the money, even though living comfortably would be nice, I would still turn it down. I think everyone did the right thing in this situation.

  26. I would’ve turned down the money if I was him because he already lives a comfortable life, and the money could go to a better organization that needs it more than he does and that’s exactly what he did. I believe everyone did the right thing , especially him.

  27. Due to the fact that they make 500,000 yearly anyways, I feel like I would turn down the $ because I didn’t complete what was asked, technically. I would use that as motivation for next season and kill it then. Everyone played their part well.

  28. I would not of turned down the money, I would’ve gotten out of the bullpen and gone and got that one out I needed to fullfill my contract.
    Yes I believe everyone did the right thing throughout the situation.

  29. I personally would have not taken the money because if I am already making 500,000 dollars that would already be enough for me to live happy with my family. I do think that everyone did make the right decision although.

  30. I would have taken the money, because I like money and that would be a lot of it. I think that he was really respectful and every one did the right thing .

  31. I would have probably taken the money given the situation that he was in. He has a family and although he already is making that much and would double it for the year. That’s what people with a normal job would receive after like 5-10 years. I think everyone involved in the situation did the right thing. Though it was the right thing to refuse the money by not going into the game. I’m sure that no one would have said that it was the wrong thing if he did take the money. It would be nice for the organization to give the money to a charity though. That’s one thing that could have been done differently.

  32. I would of done it and would of just donated it to a charity of my choice because I don’t deserve the money but that doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.

    I feel like everyone did the right thing.

  33. It would’ve been hard to turn down the money just because 210 innings had been a goal for the whole season. I hope that I would’ve realized that it just wasn’t meant to be and I wouldn’t have taken the money. I think everyone did the right thing and I think Hughes has a ton of character and I give him lots of respect for not pitching and saying that it wasn’t meant to be.

  34. 1.)I would have taken the money because if you have a family then you can use the money to pay for things for your family but then use like $300,000 of the extra $500,000 to donate to charities.
    2.)I think everyone did the right thing.

  35. For half a million dollars, I would have pitched. Hughes did the a great thing by turning down the money, but I don’t think it would be wrong to take the bonus. Phil hughes did the right thing in this story and so did the Twins. It was cool of the twins to throw Hughes a bone like that, and it was even better that Hughes refused.

  36. I honestly don’t know what I’d do. A part of me wants to think I would do the right thing and turn down the offer but in reality I feel like I would take the money but like Phil Hughes said, “it wasn’t meant to be.” I’d try to make good out of this situation and be open to different opportunities.
    Everyone did the right thing in this situation. They offered him a chance to still take the money but Hughes knew what he wanted to do which was to turn down the offer because he felt like he wouldn’t be accepting the money properly.

  37. Phil choice was something which I don’t think many people or players would have done. At first I was thinking that 500k must be nothing to a professional athlete like him, but when I saw that his salary was 500k it made Phil’s decision much more impressive to me. The fact that he took other people into account when he made this decision is something I have a lot of respect for.
    I would like to think that if I was in his position I would do the same, but I think I would have pitched.

  38. 1. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation, a part of me would want to take the money and another part of me would of known it wasn’t mean’t to be.

    2. I think in this situaton everyone did the right thing of showing ones respect to each other

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