Now, neither Mr. Guthrie is happy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Earlier this year, our company (Hartselle Newspapers Inc.) went to a direct deposit form of payment. Instead of receiving a paycheck, we now receive a pay stub and our check is deposited safely in our accounts for us.

It’s been great, mainly because it ensures the money goes directly to the bank, as opposed to the bottom of my purse for a few days.

Still, as great as our direct deposit is, it doesn’t hold a candle to that of Mark Guthrie, newspaper carrier.

It seems Mr. Guthrie recently went to his bank and discovered he was $301,000 richer. Guthrie is a newspaper carrier with the Hartford Courant and, though I don’t know him personally, I would assume he normally doesn’t receive $301,000 paychecks.

But, another Mark Guthrie, the one who used to pitch for the Chicago Cubs, does earn $301,000 a paycheck and it was his money that ended up in the newspaper carrier’s account.

Apparently, the Hartford Courant – Mr. Guthrie, the newspaper carrier’s, employer – and the Chicago Cubs – Mr. Guthrie, the baseball player’s, employer – are owned by the same company. It was a simple payroll mistake, merely a case of getting the names confused.

No one has said if Mr. Guthrie – the baseball player – got Mr. Guthrie’s – the newspaper employee’s – paycheck, too.

It took the Cubs organization about five weeks before it realized the mistake and asked for its money back.

According to the story about the mix-up, the Cubs were able to retrieve $275,000 of their money before the bank account was frozen. The remaining $26,000 is in dispute, with Mr. Guthrie – the newspaper employee – saying, basically, finders are keepers.

&uot;I need them to open the books to me and show me I don’t have any tax liabilities,&uot; Mr. Guthrie – the newspaper employee – told the Associated Press. &uot;It’s mind-boggling. They never should have made the mistake to begin with.&uot;

The Cubs disagree.

&uot;We have no desire to embarrass Mr. Guthrie or bring undue attention to his actions – we just want our money back,&uot; said the attorney representing the Cubs, Mr. Guthrie – the baseball player’s employer.

As of yet, there’s no resolution to the dispute and to complicate matters even more, Mr. Guthrie – the baseball player – is now a free agent. He’s probably searching for a team in a city where no one is named Mark Guthrie.

In the meantime, the Guthrie/Guthrie foul-up raises a good point. Maybe, just maybe, I should change my name and wait for the windfall.

Starting today, you may refer to me as Oprah Winfrey – the newspaper employee.

Leada DeVaney is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter