I’ve started reading John Helyar’s classic history of baseball, Lords of the Realm. Labor wars between players and owners are, unsurprisingly, as old as the first organized professional leagues, in the 1870s. From the late 1880s until 1901, there was a maximum salary of $2500 per player. According to one source, in 1880 that would have been about three times the average wage for a skilled worker. Of interest is that, according to Helyar, owners started whining about players salaries right from the get-go and fans always sided with owners in disputes with “greedy” players.
Lest anyone think the reason fans tend to side with owners today is because players’ salaries are so exorbitant.
On the subject of players’ salaries, Darren Rovell issued a reminder on twitter yesterday that Bobby Bonilla, who last played for the Mets in 1999, receives a payment of approximately $1.2 million every July 1as a condition of a buyout he agreed to at the time of his release from the Mets.
Those payments began in 2011 and continue through the year 2035. That’s right – 20-thirty-five.
Is this a story of an undeserving (ex) ballplayer earning obscene amounts of money, moronic management, or both?
Regardless, Bonilla and every other major league veteran should be sending a check each year to Marvin Miller’s family.