Times have changed
NOVEMBER 25, 1895
A ballplayer by the name of Frank Spruiell May was born on this date in 1895. And whatís so interesting about Jakie May, as he was called?
A few interesting things happened to him in the course of his 14-year major league baseball career. He struck Babe Ruth out twice while pitching for the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series, but I bring him up for comparison.
Jakie May was a dependable left-handed journeyman relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Cubs from 1917 to 1932. He appeared in 410 games, won 72 and lost 95. Salary figures for guys not named Ruth are hard to come by, but May probably made around $70,000 for his entire career. Donít even ask if Jakie May had to get a job when his playing days were over. He had to get a job every off-season, as did every other ballplayer (not named Ruth).
Letís compare May to a left-handed journeyman pitcher of today. How about Alan Embree? As of 2007, he also has 14-years experience with a number of teams, currently the
He has appeared in 776 games (though about half as many innings as Jakie May) with a record of 36 wins and 38 losses. Embree has been paid an average of over $2-million dollars each year this decade. Heís made almost $19-million in his career. Thatís 266 times greater than what Jakie May made in his career. Certainly costs of everything have gone up. The average home price in 1930 was about $7,000 compared to $211,000 today. Thatís about a 30-fold jump Ė significant, but nowhere near 266-fold.
Needless to say, while hardly a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Alan Embree will never have to work again. Jakie May never stopped working.
Special thanks to Kirk Kruger of Raleigh, NC for telling me about his great grandfather, Jakie May, and sending me press clippings.
Bill Grimes is a member of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research)