Monday, October 18, 2004

To the Winners...

...go a lot of spoils -- as well as some bad feelings
By Carl Bialik
The Wall Street Journal
October 18, 2004

Clay Bellinger isn't one of baseball's many multimillionaires. But he is a lucky man.
Over two full seasons as a major-league player and parts of two others, Mr. Bellinger spent much of his time watching games from the bench, and hit an anemic .193. He never earned much more than the major-league minimum salary.

It was his good fortune, though, to play his first three seasons with the New York Yankees, who won the American League pennant every one of those years. So each year, he received a World Series share. In 2000, Mr. Bellinger's share, nearly $295,000 before taxes, was 43% larger than his regular-season salary.

"When the FedEx truck pulls up in December [with the check], it's a good day," says Mr. Bellinger, age 35, who is using the postseason money he accumulated in his brief major-league career to cushion the financial blow of being back in the minor leagues.

Thanks in part to the strength of their union, major-league baseball players are rewarded with a far bigger chunk of postseason revenue than athletes in the other three major North American team sports -- football, basketball and hockey. Each player who spent all of the 2003 season with the Florida Marlins, the winner of last year's World Series, received about $306,000 in postseason money. For at least the past 35 years, the World Series winners' share has exceeded the minimum major-league salary. And even the World Series losers do well; last year's share for the Yankees, who lost the Series to the Marlins, was about $181,000.

Read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal website (Subscription Required)