Tag Archives: salary

NOV 25th IN BASEBALL HISTORY: SALARIES-THERE’S NO COMPARISON

NOVEMBER 25, 1895 | YOUNGSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA • A ballplayer by the name of Frank Spruiell May was born on this date in 1895. What’s so interesting about Jakie May, as he was called? Well, during the course of his 14-year major league baseball career he struck out Babe Ruth twice during the 1932 World Series while pitching for the Chicago Cubs. But I bring him up mainly for comparison of salaries-there’s no comparison.

Jakie May was a dependable left-handed journeyman relief pitcher for the St. Louis CardinalsCincinnati Reds and Cubs from 1917 to 1932. He appeared in 410 games, won 72 and lost 95. Salary figures back in the day for guys not named Ruth are hard to come by, but May probably made around $70,000 for his entire career. Don’t even ask if Jakie May had to get a job when his playing days were over. He had to get a job every off-season, as did just about every other ballplayer not named Ruth.

Let’s compare May to a left-handed journeyman pitcher of the 21st Century. How about Alan Embree? He played 16 years with a number of teams, retiring in 2009.

Embree appeared in 882 games (though about half as many innings as Jakie May) with a record of 39 wins and 45 losses. Embree was paid an average of over $2-million dollars each year over the last decade if his career. He made over $22-million in his career. That’s 314 times greater than what Jakie May made in his career. Certainly costs of everything have gone up. The average home price in 1930 was about $7,000 compared to $211,000 when Alan Embree played. That’s about a 30-fold jump – significant, but no where near 314-fold.

Needless to say, while neither pitcher was ever a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Alan Embree will probably never have to work again. Jakie May never stopped working.

Contributing sources:
Raleigh News & Observer, “When baseball really was a game and nothing more,” by Dennis Rogers, October 11, 1994
Jakie May
MLB salary leaders, 1874-2012 (SABR)
Baseball in the 1930s

Special thanks to Kirk Kruger of Raleigh, NC for sending me press clippings about his grandfather, Jakie May.

“The Man” is Rewarded

JANUARY 29, 1958 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI • Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals became the highest paid player in National League history on this day in baseball (1958). Stan “The Man” gratefully stroked his signature across a contract worth $100,000. It was certainly well deserved. He won his seventh batting title in 1957 with a .357 average, and drove in more than 100 runs for the tenth time in his career. The Associated Press reported that only Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox probably makes more at an estimated $125,000.

 

The Cardinals made it clear they wanted Stan to stick around. According to the AP the 37-year old former outfielder who now mostly plays first base, told reporters, ”Baseball has rewarded me richly, and the Cardinals have always treated me more than fairly, this year in particular. I would have settled for less.”

 

Musial went on to hit .337 in 1958 and play six more seasons, finishing with a lifetime .331 average. He was not considered a home run hitter, but hit over 30 home runs six times and finished with 475 for his career.


He named to twenty-four all-star teams (there were two all-stars some years), and elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

 

Contributing sources:
Associated Press, January 30, 1958