Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 1958: Stan The Man Inks A $100,000 Deal

    On January 29, 1958, Stan The Man Musial became the second player in the history of the National League to earn six figures when he inked a deal that would pay him $100,000 for the upcoming season. Stan was coming off a season that he had hit .351 and knocked 29 balls out of the yard. The owner of the Cardinals, Gussie Busch seen the accomplishments of the 37 year old who had become the face of the franchise and gave him a boost of $20,000 as a reward for all of the hard work he had put in to be one of the best in all of baseball.
     The contract wasn't the first to hit the $100,000 mark in baseball, that distinction belonged to Hank Greenberg who inked a $100,000 deal with the Pirates in '47, then in '49 the legendary Joe DiMaggio signed with the Yankees for $100,000. The minute the deal that Stan made hit the newswire, speculation began throughout the baseball community that Boston's Ted Williams would top the $100,000 mark as he was set to negotiate a new contract. Just six days after Musial put his signature on the contract in St. Louis, Williams signed a deal that would pay him $125,000 for the '58 season and also made him the highest paid player in the game.

     It seems that both Musial and Williams were always topping each other. Since the first days that Stan stepped on the field at the major league lever there was an argument between fans and pundits alike as to who was the better hitter. It was a argument that had valid points on both sides. The day the deal was inked Williams' lifetime average was 10 points higher than Musial's .340, he led The Man in home runs 456 to 381, and RBI's with 1,639 to Musial's 1,572. On the other hand, Musial had won 7 batting titles to Williams' 5 and he had also won the league MVP award three times which was something that Williams had taken home twice. In hindsight they were truly both the greatest of their era and even though Williams might even be the greatest to ever swing a bat there is no way I would have taken him over Stan. I say that with all due respect to Williams and his accomplishments. I just hold Stan in a much different light compared to anyone who ever picked up a bat.

     Musial produced a .337 average in that '58 season and added another 17 home runs to his career totals. By today's standards the $100,000 that Stan earned that year would top more than $800,000. Just recently I wrote a short story for about the day that Jackie Robinson became the richest man in the history of the Dodgers organiazation. I reflect on that now because of the money that we see in contracts today. According to Stan earned $980,000 over his entire career. That would be nearly $8 million today. Nothing to scoff at, but when we see what is happening with contracts nowadays it can really make the wheels in the ole head spin a bit.

     I think it is important to note that some of the numbers in the contracts might have been skewed a bit. Many of the numbers I used in this story were obtained from newspaper archives from the days that followed. lists some differnt totals that were provided by a researcher named Michael Haupert. If you look to the side of those estimations by Haupert, it does list the totals that were reported by The Sporting News which are concurrent with the newspapers I used as a reference. 

Here are both Stan Musial's and Ted Williams' career numbers: 

The AP file photo came with the caption: A Raise, And A Pat On The Back

Stan Musial of the St, Louis Cardinals gets a pat on the back from club owner August A. Busch Jr.after signing his 1958 contract for an estimated $100,000, a raise of about $20,000. In the rear is Bing Devine, Cards General Manager.

*Correction: I did correct some information in this blog as the Greenberg signing with Pittsburgh came to my attention. Originally I had Stan as the first National League player to make $100,000 but realized at a later date that Greenberg had come before him in that department. 


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