Stan Musial

How Busch Jr. made Stan Musial the NL’s first $100,000 player

A decade after he briefly held out of spring training in a bid for a $5,000 raise, Stan Musial became the first $100,000 player in National League history.

On January 29, 1958, the Cardinals called a morning press conference at Anheuser-Busch Brewery to announce that Musial, who had been playing for $80,000 per season since 1952, had signed a new, six-figure contract. Team president August A Busch Jr. and general manager Bing Devine joined Musial in making the announcement.

“Baseball has rewarded me richly and the Cardinals have always treated me more than fairly,” Musial said. “This year, in particular, the Cardinals wanted me to have this contract. I would have settled for less, but Mr. Busch and Bing wanted me to have it and I feel highly honored.”[1]

Indeed, Musial’s negotiations entering his age-37 season played out very differently from most. Musial had seen that Pirates star Ralph Kiner had just become the National League’s highest-paid player with a $90,000 contract.




“I was talking to Bing, and I said, ‘I think I should be the highest-paid player in the National League. I want $91,000,’” Musial recalled. “I went on a trip and came back, and Bing called me in to talk about my contract. I asked him, ‘Did I get the $91,000?’ And he said, ‘No!’ Then he said, ‘Mr. Busch wants you to be the first $100,000 player.’”[2]

It was a far cry from the $300 he earned in his first minor-league season after the Cardinals signed him out of Donora High School in Pennsylvania.[3] In his first full big-league season in 1942, the Cardinals paid him $4,200, and earned $15,000 in 1946 while winning the National League batting crown and leading the Cardinals to the World Series championship. He earned $30,000 in 1947, then saw his pay increased to $50,000 in 1949. As Musial won three straight batting titles from 1950 through 1952, owner Fred Saigh boosted his salary to $70,000 before it stayed steady at $80,000 through the early years of Anheuser-Busch’s ownership of the team.[4]

“Who would have thought, Miss Murphy, that when I signed for $4,200 in 1942, there’d ever be a day when I’d sign for this?” Musial said to Mary Murphy, the secretary to the team’s presidents since 1930 and the one who had typed up each of Musial’s contracts since he was called up to the majors in 1941.[5]

Musial was coming off his seventh batting title, after hitting .351 with 29 homers and 102 RBIs at age 36. With Musial leading the club in hits (tied with Don Blasingame), doubles, and homers, the Cardinals finished second to the Milwaukee Braves with an 87-67 record.




During the season, Musial extended his NL record of 895 consecutive games played before a chip fracture in his left shoulder took him out of the lineup in late August. When he returned in mid-September, Musial cut down on his swing and found that the adjustment actually helped him, as he hit safely in 16 of his final 27 at-bats.

“I’m taking treatments several times a week and x-rays once a month,” Musial said. “The shoulder hasn’t given me any pain and when spring training rolls around, I’ll be ready.”[6]

“We’re confident that Stan again will bring back the batting championship and lead us in a wonderful fight for the National League pennant,” Busch said.[7]

Though Musial played play six more seasons, he already was answering questions about how much longer he would play.




“I feel like I can play a couple more years,” he said. “We had a wonderful chance last year and we’ll have a fine club coming along again this year. The fact that we’re up in the race helps me, I think.”[8]

Musial hit .337 that season with 17 homers and 62 RBIs and collected his 3,00th career hit on May 13. However, in 1959, he saw his batting average dip to a career-low .255 with 14 homers and just 44 RBIs. At his request, he took a pay cut back to $80,000 for the 1960 season.

“The Cardinals have been generous to me the past few years, so I thought I’d be kind to them,” he said. He added, “I’ve taken a (reduction) but I still have one of the highest salaries and one of the best contracts in baseball.”[9]

Despite the pay cut, Musial’s 1960 salary brought him over $1 million in career regular-season earnings.[10]

Musial continued playing through his age-42 season in 1963. He finished his career with 3,630 hits and a .331 career batting average over 22 seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.





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[1] Bob Broeg, “Musial Signs for $100,000, First Increase in 6 years,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 29, 1958.

[2] Bing Devine (2012), The Memoirs of Bing Devine: Stealing Lou Brock and Other Winning Moves by a Master GM (Kindle Android version), Location 1514.

[3] Bob Broeg, “Musial Signs for $100,000, First Increase in 6 years,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 29, 1958.

[4] Bob Broeg, “Musial Signs for $100,000, First Increase in 6 years,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 29, 1958.

[5] Bob Broeg, “Dickson Rejected Job As Cardinal Coach Before Joining A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 30, 1958.

[6] Jack Herman, “Musial’s $100,000 Pact Sets N.L. Record,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 30, 1958.

[7] “Musial Wins $20,000 Raise,” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 30, 1958.

[8] Jack Herman, “Musial’s $100,000 Pact Sets N.L. Record,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 30, 1958.

[9] Neal Russo, “Musial Takes First Cut, Signs For $80,000,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 21, 1960.

[10] Neal Russo, “Musial Takes First Cut, Signs For $80,000,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 21, 1960.

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