Salary Highlights from the Thirties
For four years during the early New Deal, legislators tore a small hole in Organized Baseball's traditional veil of financial secrecy. Corporations were required by statute to report all annual salaries above $15,000 paid to their employees, and the record of these salaries was made available for public inspection. (The salaries paid to Judge Landis and the league presidents were not included in these filings, as the two leagues were, and are, unincorporated associations.) The Sporting News compiled these lists of baseball's highest-paid executives and players.
1934: Topping the salary list was St. Louis Cardinals' executive Branch Rickey, who earned $14,470 in bonuses on top of his $35,000 salary. (Rickey's contract entitled him to 10% from all Cardinals player sales.) Following Rickey came New York Giants owner/president Charles A. Stoneham at $45,000 and Detroit executive Frank Navin at $40,000. Next came Babe Ruth, still baseball's highest-paid player in his final season as a Yankee: Ruth earned $36,696 in 1934, less than half his top salary of $80,000. Behind Ruth came his manager, Joseph McCarthy, at $35,000, followed by Detroit player/manager Mickey Cochrane and Cubs slugger Chuck Klein at $30,000 each. Giants player/manager Bill Terry drew $27,500, with Yankee boss Ed Barrow earning $25,000. Next came J. Louis Comiskey of the White Sox, at $23,996, followed by Cubs player/manager Charlie Grimm with $18,361. Cardinals president Sam Breadon drew $18,000; Indians GM Billy Evans, $17,500. Giants screwballer Carl Hubbell also earned $17,500 -- third highest, behind Ruth and Klein, among all players without managerial duties. White Sox executive Harry Grabiner took home $15,667, and Rogers Hornsby, finishing his illustrious career as player/manager of the St. Louis Browns, earned an even $15,000.
1935: Stoneham $45,040; Rickey $44,919; Frank Navin $40,000, McCarthy $35,000, Lou Gehrig $31,000, Cochrane and Detroit executive Charles Navin $30,000, Terry $27,500, Breadon, Barrow and Cincinnati's Larry MacPhail $25,000, Red Sox executive Eddie Collins $24,000, Comiskey $20,903, Grimm $20,106, Lefty Gomez (Yankees) and Al Simmons (White Sox) $20,000, Jimmy Foxx (Athletics) and executives Ford Frick (Giants) and Florence Dreyfuss (Pirates) $18,000, Klein $17,289, Grabiner $15,167.
1936: Cochrane $45,000, Rickey $43,907, Giants treasurer Leo Bondy $34,771, Gehrig $31,000, Terry $30,000, MacPhail $29,167, McCarthy $27,500, Gomez, Breadon and Detroit's Charlie Gehringer $25,000, Stoneham $24,618, Collins $24,000, Dizzy Dean $22,185, Billy Herman of the Cubs $21,361, Grimm, Barrow, Charles Navin, Cardinals manager Frank Frisch and Detroit outfielder Hank Greenberg, $20,000, Gabby Hartnett $19,335, Hubbell $17,500, Connie Mack $17,000, Tommy Bridges and Al Simmons of Detroit $16,500, Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke $15,500, Yankee owner/president Jacob Ruppert, $15,333.
1937: Cochrane $45,000, Rickey $42,340.22, Gehrig $36,000, Bondy $35,080, Terry $30,000, McCarthy $27,500, Dean $25,500, Breadon, Ruppert, Barrow and Stoneham $25,000, Eddie Collins and Detroit executive Walter O. Briggs $24,000, Reds executive Warren Giles $23,899, Hubbell $22,500, George Weiss, Yankee farm director, $21,150, Charles Navin, Frank Frisch and Connie Mack $20,000, Gehringer $18,500, Bill Dickey $18,000, Grimm and Hartnett $17,835 each, Cleveland executive Cy Slapnicka $17,625, Mel Ott of the Giants $17,500, teammate Dick Bartell $17,000, Tommy Bridges $16,500, Cleveland executive Alva Bradley $15,000.
Copyright © 1995 Doug Pappas. All rights
Originally published in the Summer 1995 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.