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Salaries Surpass $2 Billion

Baseball: Payroll of 849 players tops mark for first time, with Alex Rodriguez of Texas No. 1 on the list.

April 04, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Baseball salaries topped $2 billion for the first time this year, with Texas Ranger shortstop Alex Rodriguez atop the list at $22 million.

The New York Yankees led all clubs with a record payroll of nearly $126 million--$92 million more than last-place Tampa Bay.

The figures are the result of a study by the Associated Press of contracts for 849 players on opening-day rosters and disabled lists.

Players will earn $2.023 billion, up from $1.934 billion last season. Owners, however, did slow the increase during a troubled off-season in which baseball unsuccessfully tried to eliminate two teams.

The average salary of $2,383,235 was up 5.2 percent from last year. That was less than half of the 13.9 percent increase of 2001 and the smallest percentage jump since 1998.

"It goes up every year," New York Met Manager Bobby Valentine said. "The only time they didn't go up was in the collusion years."

While the average salary has increased 126-fold from 1967, when it was $19,000, the Consumer Price Index has gone up only five-fold since then. And while baseball players average $13,000 a day during the season, the average annual household income in the United States is $57,045, according to latest figures from Census Bureau. That's about four days' average pay for someone who wields a bat and wears a glove.

Still, baseball's average is almost half the $4.2 million in the NBA last season, according to figures compiled by the league. The NHL's average was $1.43 million last season and the NFL's average was $1.1 million.

Just behind Rodriguez are Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado ($19.4 million), Dodger pitcher Kevin Brown ($15.7 million) and Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez ($15.4 million). Barry Bonds, who hit a record 73 homers for San Francisco, is tied for fifth with the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa at $15 million.

Dodger, Angel salaries on Page D10

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The Money Game

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