Cardinals Withhold Players Paychecks Last Month Of The Season

By Beth Chapman
Oct. 20, 2016

Shocking? In this day and age? Yes, it would be if in fact the St. Louis Cardinals of 2016 had even tried. I'm afraid Cardinals Headquarters would be stormed at the door with a summons by the players union. However, a bit of history, this particular situation did happen in 1900. 

In 1900, only five Cardinals players were paid for their last month of the season. (St. Louis Cardinals Archives)

Due to a season of poor performance, coming in fifth in the standings, 65-75, the organization decided only five players would receive a paycheck for their last month of play. The rest of the team went home empty handed. I'm surmising the pay scale "back-in-the-day" was $1500-$5000 per season. One of those players who did receive a paycheck was 3B/SS/OF John McGraw. 

John McGraw only spent one season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

McGraw came to St. Louis from the National League Baltimore Orioles (NL) for his one season in 1900. While with the team he produced a .344 BA/.505 OBP/.416 SLG/.912 OPS. He did have 115 hits as a Cardinals; but, only 2 HR/33 RBI, adding 84 runs. Something we don't see too much of in modern day baseball, he drew 85 walks and only had 9 strikeouts. However, after the extreme decision at the end of his one season, he probably felt it best to move on. He returned to the Orioles, who had been moved to the American League, for two seasons. He then played his final seasons with the New York Giants. 

Not only was he a player for the Cardinals, once retired from the field, he managed his former team from 1925-1926. After his death in 1934, McGraw was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, in 1937. He closed his 17 season career: .334/.466.410/.876 offensive slash line. With 3924 AB, he had 1309 hits and added 1024 runs; with, only 13 HR and 462 RBI. But, he drew a career total of 836 walks to his impressively low, 155 strikeouts. 

"Back in the early days of the league, before free agency and the challenges of the reserve clause, the teams had all of the power in the labor relations. If you did not want to play ball by their rules, you would never have another chance to appear in the Majors."  (David Hill, Fansided

In modern day, no organization would get by with such tactics. However, fun to take a walk into the past of our Major League Baseball history. And, for some of our players today? The few seconds it takes them to walk through the locker room door, they earned what the players full season pay was 116 years ago.