Some perspective on the numbers in this Minneapolis Tribune story: Tris Speaker's 1914 salary of $18,000 would be worth about $380,865 in 2010, when this entry was first posted. Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose 2009 stats fall a bit short of Speaker's 1913 numbers, earned $18 million in 2010 -- or nearly 50 times Speaker's salary in today's dollars.

'Sky Is the Limit' in
Star Players’ Salaries

Tris Speaker an Example of Me-
teoric Rise in Pay

Just a Few years Ago and $1,500
Was Considered Plenty


  The Grey Eagle: Tris Speaker in 1914.
As one manager expressed it recently: “The sky’s the limit in baseball salaries at the present time as far as the stars are concerned, and even the everyday players are receiving as much or more than the most famous diamond heroes of a few years ago.” “Tris” Speaker’s rise in a few seasons from the minors to the highest salaried star in the game is without parallel in baseball or any other sport. He made good from the time he went to Boston, each season being up among the leading sluggers, and it was his bat that had much to do with the Giants’ loss of a world’s championship pennant.
Last season he finished fourth among the American league batsmen with a percentage of .366. He took part in 141 games, made 94 runs, had in 190 hits for a total of 288 bases and stole 46 times. Speaker’s salary with the Bostons will be $18,000 a season for the next two years. Other players drawing down fancy stipends annually are: Mathewson, $15,000; Cobb, $12,000; Tinker, $12,000; Evers, $10,000; Wagner, $10,000, and Walter Johnson, $7,500.
And don’t overlook the fact that John J. McGraw, the peppery little leader of the Giants, drew a salary of $30,000 in 1913, and he will get the same amount annually until the end of 1917 in accordance with the terms of his present contract. McGraw gets no percentage from the New York club’s profits, but he did add $3,500 to his salary last year, the tidy sum being his share of the world’s series battles and some exhibition contests.
A ball player receiving from $1,500 to $1,800 in the old days was considered fortunate by most of his fellows. The actual annual salaries of the former kings of the diamond were: John Ward, $4,000; Amos Rusie, $3,200; George Van Haltren, $2,200; “Buck” Ewing, $2,400; Tim Keefe, $2,400; “Rube” Waddell, $2,200, and Dan Brouthers, $1,900. Recently when the Federal league was bidding for the game’s best talent, Ty Cobb was offered a three-year contract calling for $45,000 to desert organized baseball and Mathewson was promised $65,000 if he would pitch for and manage the Brooklyn “outlaw” team for three seasons. Speaker also was offered a large salary for three years, supposed to be about $20,000 annually.


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