Q: In 2013 when the St. Louis Cardinals won the last of their 19 National League pennants, they received a bonus. The amount was published along with the amount for a full share. Will they receive a similar bonus for just winning their division this year, and how much would it be?
Edward Wild, of Belleville
A: To the victors go the spoils, so even though the Cardinals lost their National League division series to the Cubbies, 3-1, our hometown boys will be receiving extra moolah for snaring the Central Division title with 100 wins. But if, say, they’re thinking of buying new cars with their postseason windfall, they’d better keep their eyes on Buicks rather than Bentleys.
Here’s how it works: Major League Baseball takes 60 percent of the total gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series, 60 percent of the receipts from the first four games of each league championship series, 60 percent from the first three games of each division series and 50 percent from the two wild-card games. They throw all of this money into a huge pot and then divide it up according to how far each team advances in the playoffs.
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The World Series winner deservedly gets the biggest slice of the pie: 36 percent, or more than a third. The rest is given out as follows: 24 percent to the World Series loser, 12 percent each to the league championship losers, 3.25 percent to the division series losers and 1.5 percent to the wild-card game losers. Checks are sent to the teams, which then are free to divide them as they please among the players, manager, coaches, etc.
As the late, great Jack Buck might have said, the happy financial totals and highlights from the most recent World Series are still being calculated and won’t be released until late this month or early next. But based on last year’s figures, I think I can give you a reasonable idea of how much MLB will be stuffing into Jaime Garcia’s stocking this holiday season.
In 2014, MLB showered the World Champion San Francisco Giants with a trifle over $22.3 million. In turn, the Giants rewarded their personnel with 47 full shares worth nearly $389,000 each along with 9.65 partial shares and 17 “cash rewards.” The runner-up Kansas City Royals didn’t exactly wind up paupers, earning $14.9 million or just a tad under $231,000 for each of the 54 full shares they distributed. Combined with this year’s championship, any Royal who played in both postseasons likely will earn in excess of an extra $600,000 for these past two Octobers alone.
But here’s something to think about: Had the Royals not rallied from a 7-4 deficit against Oakland in the eighth inning of the AL Wild Card Game last year, K.C.’s players would have received just $15,000 each instead — the same amount taken home by the wild-card losing Pittsburgh Pirates and A’s. Last year, the league champion runners-up (including the Cardinals) received $7.5 million while the division series losers earned just over $2 million. So, based on that $2 million figure, each Redbird likely will feather his nest this year with an extra $40,000 or so, depending on how many shares and other awards the team decides to give out.
Now, for some historical anecdotes I hope you will find as fascinating as I did:
▪ Giving a share of gate receipts to World Series competitors started with the very first Fall Classic in 1903, when the champion Boston Red Sox took home an extra $1,182 apiece. Yet the losing Pittsburgh Pirates were even happier when they were given $1,316.25 each. Were gamblers rewarding them for throwing the series? Nope, Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss simply decided to donate his entire share of the gate receipts to the players who had performed so well for him. It is the only time in history when losing players earned more than the victors.
▪ It took until 1954 before each winning player in a World Series grossed more than $10,000 for his accomplishment and 1988 to cross the $100,000 mark. Not counting this year, the top treasures remain the $389,000 shares the Giants earned last year — followed by the $377,000 San Francisco grabbed in 2012 when it swept Detroit. By comparison, the St. Louis Cardinals earned $5,585 per man for their first World Series title in 1926 and more than $323,000 each for their last one in 2011.
▪ According to “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, Yankee shortstop Frank Crosetti earned $160,000 while playing and coaching in 23 World Series from 1932 to 1968. It’s roughly $1.6 million in today’s dollars, but Derek Jeter took home an inflation-adjusted $3 million for just seven World Series appearances (38 games).
▪ In the days before players had agents and a union to fight for multimultimillion-dollar deals, a World Series win sometimes resulted in more money for a player than his regular contract. Even Oriole great Jim Palmer once told the Baltimore Sun that his 1966 World Series share was $11,638 — or nearly 60 percent more than his $7,500 salary that year.
▪ Remember the famous double dippers? In 2010 Bengie Molina started the season with the Giants before being traded to Texas in July. When both teams wound up in the World Series, he reportedly was eligible for a share from each — as was Arthur Rhodes in the 2011 Cardinal-Ranger championship. They are two of eight players who played for both teams in the same year the teams faced off in the World Series. Others, according to Yahoo Sports, were Chris Ray (2010), Jim Bruske (1998), former Cardinal Lonnie Smith (1985), Sid Monge (1984), Johnny Schmitz (1952) and Jack Kramer (1951).
▪ After New York met Chicago in the 1932 World Series, Babe Ruth reportedly asked former teammate Mark Koenig, “Hey, Mark, who are those cheapskates you’re with?” Because Koenig had first joined the Cubs in August, the team voted him only a half-share of the World Series pot.
▪ The team can give money to whomever it pleases. In 1942, the Yankees gave several hundred dollars to former bat boy Tim Sullivan, who was then serving in the Coast Guard. In 1950, Cleveland voted to give secretary Noreen Schmidt $173.50 for typing letters and sending out photos. But in 1976 when the Yankees offered only $100 each to four bat boys and then forgot to send the checks until the following February, the boys reportedly refused their largess in protest.
▪ Finally, here’s a story sure to bring a tear: In July 2007, Mike Coolbaugh was killed when a line drive hit him in the head as he was coaching first base for the Colorado Rockies’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, Okla. That fall, even though the Rockies were drubbed by Boston 4-0 in the World Series, the Colorado players voted to give Coolbaugh’s widow a full $255,000 share to help with her family’s expenses.
Now, that’s a winner.
By what name is Aoba Island (or Ambae) known better to Broadway musical lovers?
Answer to Friday’s trivia: In 1901, Frank Gerber opened the Fremont (Mich.) Canning Co. Years later, his son Daniel discovered the need for commercial baby food when his wife asked him to strain his infant’s food at the cannery, a process most parents did by hand back then. By 1928, the company released its first line of baby foods, and by 1943, the company dropped its adult food products and renamed itself as the now-familiar Gerber Products, the world’s leading producer of processed baby foods.