“The Money in Baseball” 1884

14 Mar

In 1884, under the headline “The Money in Baseball,” The Boston Globe expressed their antipathy about the “enormous salaries which the ‘kings of the profession’ demand.”

The Globe observed that “The best pitchers get as much money for working a few hours each day during seven months as many college professors receive for the entire year’s service.”

George Wright, Hall of Famer, and brother and teammate of Harry Wright with the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, told the paper

“The money paid the entire team would put a poor team on the field today.  My brother Harry was the most expensive man on the team, and he got $2000 for being captain and playing center field.  I was in my regular position at short and drew $1800.”

Wright said several players on the Red Stockings were paid less than $1000.

1869 Red Stockings, Harry Wright, standing third from left, George Wright standing to the right of him.

1869 Red Stockings, Harry Wright, standing third from left, George Wright standing to the right of him.

By comparison The Globe said:

“The salary list of the Boston League club amounts to $25,000 in round numbers…It is impossible to estimate how much has been paid in salaries to ballplayers throughout the country.  The eight League clubs will certainly average as much as Boston’s total…In the Union Association are eight more clubs…there is not much doubt that the eight clubs pay at least $125,000 in salaries.  The American Association has twelve clubs…the salary list of these three largest baseball associations in the country aggregate between $500,000 and $600,000.”

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