Originally created 12/31/98

Sheffield sets salary record at $14.9 million

NEW YORK -- A record 326 major leaguers made $1 million or more last season, topped by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Gary Sheffield at a single-season record $14.9 million, according to a study by The Associated Press.

Sheffield, boosted by a $5 million bonus he received for agreeing to a midseason trade from Florida, smashed the record of $10 million, set in 1997 by Albert Belle with the Chicago White Sox.

Eight players made more than the entire roster of the Montreal Expos ($8,317,500). Sheffield, whose exact earnings were $14,936,667, also made more than the Pittsburgh Pirates ($13,695,000) and fell just short of the final roster of the Marlins ($15,141,000).

A record 36.5 percent of players reached $1 million, up from 34.5 percent last year, according to the AP study, which reviewed the contracts of all 894 players on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists.

At the other end, 126 players were at the minimum $170,000 (14.1 percent), nearly one of every seven players In 1997, 107 players (13.0 percent) were at the minimum, which was $150,000.

In 1999, the minimum jumps to $200,000, which was higher than the average salary until 1982.

Following Sheffield were Belle ($10 million), Atlanta pitcher Greg Maddux ($9.6 million), St. Louis home-run king Mark McGwire ($8,928,354), San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds ($8,916,667), Toronto pitcher Roger Clemens ($8.55 million), Atlanta first baseman Andres Galarraga ($8.4 million), Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa ($8,325,000), New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams ($8.3 million) and Seattle outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. ($8,203,767).

The median salary -- the point at which an equal number of players were above and below -- was $418,000, down from $450,000 last season and $500,000 on opening day. Expansion and the large number of players on the disabled list -- 144 -- were partly responsible.

The average salary was $1,386,117, between the final figures of the players' association ($1,398,831) and the commissioner's office ($1,380,099). Slightly different methods of calculation are used by each organization.

Figures were obtained by the AP from management and player sources and include salaries, pro-rated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed money not attributed to a specific year, and all earned incentive bonuses. For some players, parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect current values.

Belle, who signed with Baltimore after the World Series, and Williams, who re-signed with the Yankees, will receive boosts with their new deals as will pitcher Kevin Brown, who agreed to a record $105 million, seven-year contract with the Dodgers.

With the addition of Arizona and Tampa Bay as expansion teams, the number of millionaires was easily broken. The 326 were 41 more than the previous mark, set in 1997.

Just less than one in four major leaguers, 220 in all, were at $2 million or more, an increase of 20. There were 150 at $3 million or higher, 16 more than 1997, and 98 at $4 million or more, an increase of 15.

At the highest levels, the number of $8 million players doubled from five to 11, a sign of the rise that's to come in future years.

Baltimore, which had a record payroll of $75.2 million and stumbled to a 79-83 finish, had a record had 21 million-dollar players.

Montreal, which had a payroll one-ninth of Baltimore's, had just one million-dollar player (Rondell White at $2 million), Florida had just two, including Alex Fernandez, who made $7 million and spent the entire season on the disabled list following rotator cuff surgery. Seventeen Marlins earned the minimum.

Among the major league millionaires are Cecil Fielder ($2.8 million), Gary Gaetti ($1.35 million) and Jim Poole ($1 million), who were released from their guaranteed deals and then re-signed for the minimum.


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