Category Archives: March

March 3 in baseball history-MILWAUKEE’S LOSS BALTIMORE’S GAIN

1953 | SARASOTA, FLORIDA  – How does “Milwaukee Browns” sound? It almost became a reality. There was an attempt in 1953 to shift the American League’s St. Louis Browns franchise to Milwaukee, but conversations on this date that year between owners involved put that possibility to rest.

One door closing, however often opens another, and that’s what happened here.

Veeck moved his St. Louis Browns to Baltimore where they started the 1954 season as the Orioles, and remain to this day.

Let me try to explain the sometimes convoluted machinations of Major League Baseball franchise moves and almost moves.

The Braves (today’s Atlanta Braves) were still in Boston in those days, but they owned a minor league franchise in Milwaukee. They would have had to move that franchise if a major league team moved in. St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck was eager to move to Milwaukee, and the city was anxious to get a major league team, using a $5 million, 32,000 seat stadium as an enticement. But it was up to the Boston Braves. Vice-president Joseph Cairnes said, “We wouldn’t stand in the way of Milwaukee getting in the major leagues, but before we give up the [minor league] franchise we want another Triple-A franchise of the same potential.” There wasn’t time to work that out before opening day 1953, so the Browns stayed in St. Louis, but only for one more year.

Veeck moved his St. Louis Browns to Baltimore where they started the 1954 season as the Orioles, and remain to this day. The Boston Braves eventually became Milwaukee’s first major league team in three years later, though they didn’t stay long. The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966.

Contributing sources:
Browns/Orioles
Braves (Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta)
New York Times, Sarasota, Florida, March 4, 1953

March 2 in baseball history-MONEY MONEY MONEY

1927 | NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK • Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in the major leagues on this date in 1927. The New York Yankees announced that the 32-year old Bambino will earn $70,000 per season for the next three years.

Seventy-thousand dollars a year in 1927 translates to about $1,000,000 in today’s dollars. Not a huge amount compared to today’s salaries, but that was before free agency when a player was the property of a team till the end of his career. The only way he could put on another uniform was if he were traded or released.

Major League Baseball salary records compiled by economist Michael J. Haupert of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse show Ruth was also the highest paid player of the 1930’s. He earned $80,000 in 1930 and 1931.

Below is Haupert’s list of the highest annual salaries per decade, as can best be determined. Haupert says records of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are “tenuous,” but illustrate how salaries have changed:

1870’s (Al Spaulding) $4,000
1880’s (Fred Dunlap, Buck Ewing) $5,000
1890’s (Hardy Richardson) $4,000
1900’s (Nap Lajoie) $9,000
1910’s (Ty Cobb) $20,000
1920’s (Babe Ruth) $70,000
1930’s (Babe Ruth) $80,000
1940’s (Joe DiMaggio) $100,000
1950’s (Joe DiMaggio) $100,000
1960’s (Willie Mays) $135,000
1970’s (Rod Carew) $800,000
1980’s (Orel Hershiser/Frank Viola) $2,766,667
1990’s (Gary Sheffield) $14,936,667
2000’s (Alex Rodriguez) $33,000,000
2010’s (Alex Rodriguez) $33,000,000

Contributing sources:
“MLB’s Annual Salary Leaders, 1874-2012,” by Michael Haupert 
“Ruth gets 3-year contract; $210,000,” Chicago Daily Tribune, March 3, 1927

March 1 in baseball history-MANTLE RETIRES

1969 | FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA • An American icon of the 1950’s and 60’s retired on this date in 1969. Mickey Mantle made the announcement at the spring training home of the New York Yankees, ending an 18-year career.

It’s remarkable it lasted that long considering “Mick” endured a variety of injuries, mostly to his legs. In announcing his decision, Mantle revealed the frustrations of a proud athlete, he was only 37, whose body would not perform, “I don’t hit the ball when I need to. I can’t steal when I need to, I can’t score from second base when I need to.”

Mantle had superstar numbers, but they could have been better. He was the prototype 5-tool player when he came up to the Yankees at age 19 – run, hit, hit for power, throw and catch.

Early in his career he was described as the fastest player from home to first, but that was before leg injuries turned him into a 4-tool star.

Career statistics:

  • 3-time MVP
  • 16-time all-star
  • On 12 pennant winners
  • On 7 World Series championship teams
  • 536 home runs
  • .298 average
  • .421 on-base percentage
  • .557 slugging percentage

Contributing sources:
New York Times, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 2, 1969
More on Mantle