November 5, 2007

Joe DiMaggio On His 1938 Holdout

In 1937, in his second major league season, Joe DiMaggio batted .346/.412/.673, with 167 RBI and 418 total bases. He finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting. He was paid $15,000.

He believed he should earn $40,000 for 1938, but the club offered only $25,000. DiMaggio held out and did not report to spring training.

Under the rules of the time -- you know, the "good old days" -- whichever team first signed a player had full control over him for his entire career. Free agency did not exist. The player could either sign whatever contract was offered or he could retire.

Once the season began, DiMaggio accepted the $25,000 and returned to the team. Ripped as greedy in the sports pages (naturally), Yankee fans booed him for most of the season. ... Some things never change.

Click here to read DiMaggio's explanation of his holdout -- and his thoughts on baseball and money, in general.

Bonus link! Here's a letter to the editor of the New York Times I wrote about the same subject in February 1995!

11 comments:

chief said...

I have no idea if this is of any value since I just looked it up and haven't really thought it through, but here goes:

According the the Consumer Price Index, one 1937 dollar is worth $14.06 in 2006, so Joe's $15k translates to about $351,500. The $40k he asked for would be worth $562,400 now. Paltry sums in this day and age.

By comparison, ESPN lists A-Rod's annual salary as $27,708,525, which would be about $1,970,734 in 1937 dollars.

Rookie Dustin Pedroia is listed as making $380,000.

Like I said, I'm not sure what that means. Player salaries have grown faster than the rate of inflation, which isn't a surprise.

A more meaningful comparison might be the gate receipts in 1937 vs. now. But you have to add in the value of TV, radio, merchandise, etc, so it makes complete sense to me that their salaries have grown so much, since overall revenue has grown substantially too.

I guess my conclusion is that people need to shut up about salaries and stop being nostalgic for a time that never existed.

L-girl said...

I guess my conclusion is that people need to shut up about salaries and stop being nostalgic for a time that never existed.

Lordy lordy, I could not agree more.

I'll also add that until we know what the owners net - what they really net, including media deals, merchandising, the whole shebang - I don't think players' salaries should be made public. Make it all public, or make none of it public.

(No need to tell me it will never happen. I do live on planet earth.)

L-girl said...

Good letter, too.

Dan said...

I don't think players' salaries should be made public. Make it all public, or make none of it public.

True that... does anyone know how/when/why players' salaries became any of the fans' business? I sure as hell don't want anyone outside of my boss and my family knowing how little I earn.

It's also strange that C. Gehringer beat out DiMaggio for the MVP... because of .025 of average? DiMaggio cracked 46 dongs to Gehringer's 14. Fast forward to 2003: Bill Mueller wins the batting title and fails to crack the top ten in MVP voting. Who wins the '03 MVP? A-Rod, with .028 less batting average and 47 hr's to Mueller's 19.

I know Gehringer hit a Nomar-esque .371 in 1938, but still - the difference between A-Rod and Billy Mueller is closer than Gehringer and DiMaggio, and Mueller finished 12th overall in the voting. I guess my only take on it is that homeruns just weren't thought of as highly as they are today? And I guess fielding has to be taken into consideration. What do you think redsock?

P.S. Excellent blog.

Colin said...

Kiss Pettite goodbye!

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7413470

Sweet Schadenfreude. :D

9casey said...

Dan said...
It's also strange that C. Gehringer beat out DiMaggio for the MVP... because of .025 of average?


Dan, If they went on stats alone Ted Williams should have won the MVP every year he played up to 1951 and a couple year after that ....his stats are ridiculous

Sean O said...

Per firebrand:

"Fox 25 News has just announced that Curt Schilling has resigned with the Red Sox for one year at a base salary of $8 million with $5 million in incentives."

Welcome back Curt!

Matt said...

The herald is reporting that Schill and Sox are close to a deal.

chief said...

I saw thing thing about Pettitte, but it apparently doesn't mean he's gone - just had to make a decision based on his contract within a short period. So he opted out and can still negotiate with them.

In other news, ESPN just reported that Schilling is close to a 1 year, incentive laden deal with the Sox.

Colin said...

I understand he's not completely out of the picture, but provided he seals the deal, schadenfreude could commence.

chief said...

schadenfreude could commence.

True that, Pettitte is publicly saying "Yankees or retirement." I'm putting a vote in for retirement. Pettitte reads this blog, right? Retire Andy. kthx.