Money is the root of all evil? That’s what a lot of folks think down in the Bible Belt… Are they onto something? Yesterday, the news broke in Miami, FL about another huge PED scandal that is certain to rock the National Pastime to it’s core… Again.
Three weeks ago, the BBWAA hurled a shutout against the Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2013”. The goal was to send a message to the players who racked up some mind-boggling numbers during a period that everyone now refers to as the Steroids Era. Whether you agreed with their decision or not, the baseball writers took a stand and at least for one year they decided that no player from that era would get through the hallowed doors of Cooperstown.
What compels so many players to cheat? Do they do it for the fame and glory? Are they hoping to leave their marks in the record books and have their names alongside some of the game’s all time greats?
Did they cheat to give their teams a better chance to win and go to the post season?
I’m afraid not… I’m afraid that none of their intentions were so noble or grand… And that’s the sad part.
They did it for the GREED… They did it for the money… Dirty, filthy money…
A million dollars wasn’t enough… Ten million dollars wasn’t enough… One hundred million dollars wasn’t enough…
Here’s a history of how salaries have escalated since 1979 when Nolan Ryan became the first player to sign a contract that paid him and average of one million dollars a year. It’s a chronological history of the highest paid players in the game since Ryan’s Express broke that one million dollar benchmark.
In the 1980’s the highest average annual salary ranged from $2.5MM to $3.25MM.
In the 1990’s the highest average annual salary ranged from $3.5MM to $15MM.
In the 2000’s the highest average annual salary ranged from $15.45MM to $27.5MM.
In 1922, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees became the first player ever to earn $50,000 annually. It would take 25 years until that benchmark was doubled when the Pittsburgh Pirates made Hank Greenberg baseball’s first $100,000 player in 1947.
In 1979, Nolan Ryan the Houston Astros became the first player ever to earn $1 million dollars annually. Two years later, the New York Mets doubled that mark when they made George Foster the first player to earn $2 million dollars annually.
Other landmark annual salaries:
$5MM – Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox
$10MM – Albert Belle, Chicago White Sox
$15MM – Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers
$20MM – Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
$25MM – Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers
$30MM – Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez has held the distinction of having the highest average annual salary in baseball for the last 13 years now, an MLB record. Will we ever see another player hold that distinction as long as he has?
This is why they do it… This is why they cheat…
Thanks to Baseball Reference, Cot’s Contracts and Baseball Almanac for aiding me immensely in compiling this information.