Monday, April 28, 2014

Umps' pay topped losers' share in 1946 Series

It's hard to imagine given the state of Major League Baseball pay scales today, but in 1946 the four regular umpires who worked the World Series were paid more than the American League Champion Boston Red Sox who took home the losers' shares.

Because of the relatively small size of the two ballparks involved in the '46 Fall Classic, Fenway Park and Sportsman's Park, the World Series players' shares were the lowest since 1918. Members of the winning St. Louis Cardinals received shares of $3,742.33 apiece.. The Red Sox, who divided their cut of the proceeds into 41 shares, collected $2,059.99 each.

The four regular umpires (there were two reserve umps on hand) were paid $2,500 apiece for the seven-game series, plus $18 a day for hotel and meals and a total of $25 each for cab allowance. Those umpires, all of whom appeared nine years later in the 1955 Bowman card set, were Lee Ballanfant, Al Barlick, Charlie Berry and Cal Hubbard.

According to a fiscal round-up in The Sporting News at the time, the $175,000 that was paid for radio broadcasting rights, was put into escrow while the details of the players' pension plan were being worked out. If no plan had emerged, the release of those funds would have added about $700 to each player's World Series take.

The Red Sox share was nearly $2,000 lower than the average losers' share over the previous 10 years.

Many of the participants in the 1946 World Series would have been off financially to have take part in the various off-season barnstorming tours. The allowable period for such exhibition games had been extended for 1946 for 30 days after the close of the World Series from the previous limit of 10 days.

Bob Feller, who had organized the most successful of the 1946 post-season tours, usually pairing his major league all-stars with a Negro squad headed by Satchel Paige, had offered Stan Musial, the 1946 National League batting champion, $7,500 to tour with him. Red Sox management is said to have paid Ted Williams $10,000 not to participate in any barnstorming series.

To compare those 1946 World Series payouts with today . . .

For the 2013 World Series, which coincidentally was contested by the Cardinals and the Rex Sox, the winners' share (Cardinals) of post-season gate receipts was $307,322.68; the losers' share was $228,300.17. The pool of player payouts is currently comprised of 60% of the gate for Games 1-4 of the World Series and the two League Championship Series, and Games 1-3 of the four Division Championship Series.

To be honest, I don't know how many teams get a share of post-season receipts today. In 1946, there was a descending scale of payouts for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams in each league.

Umpires today have a $120,000 minimum salary, with longevity and performance bumps up to about $400,000 a year. They receive something like $345 in daily meal and hotel allowance, and first class airfare when they travel. Bonuses for working the division, league and world championship series can be up to $20,000.

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