Tuesday, May 04, 2010
I happened to come across this article last week while doing some research at the Library of Congress. Entitled "Base Ball Players' Salaries," it's from the February 21, 1892, issue of a defunct newspaper called the New York Press.
Based on my extensive research (cough, Wikipedia, cough), it seems the American Association, a major league that competed with the National League, had recently folded. This left the players with very little leverage when it came to negotiating salaries, which had risen as high as $5,000 when the two leagues were competing.
The article was written by Sam Crane, a noted baseball writer at the time. According to Crane (who seems to have been sympathetic to the owners), some players were taking cuts of $1,000, and the reduced salaries would "put the game on a business basis and give the magnates a chance to pull out even at least."
It's worth noting that in 1892 the average (non-farm) worker made about $540, which means the average major league baseball player made (very roughly) about ten times the average worker. Today the average player makes about $3 million, and the average worker's salary is $55,000 (and the median is $27,500). So the rest of us have some catching up to do!
In any event, the article is an interesting bit of baseball history, and I especially like how it ends with "Diamond Dust," much like modern articles end with notes. (Just click on the pictures to see a full-size version of the article.)