C. Ripken: the hour, by the swing, by the pound

April 05, 1993|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

If Cal Ripken has a little extra spring in his step when he steps into the batter's box today, it might not be just because of a solid spring training.

The season that starts today is the first of five in the 32-year-old shortstop's $30.5 million contract. A separate agreement for post-playing employment brings its total value to $32.5 million.

How much money is that?

His hourly pay roughly equals the per capita gross national product of the United States. His five-year package exceeds Grenada's annual exports. He will earn each game roughly twice what the average Swede earns in a year.

His $6.1 million annual average salary equals about $37,654 per game, or $4,183 per inning, or $9,576 every time he comes up to bat.

That explains the spring in his step.

In a good year he can expect to average a hit for every three appearances at the plate, which would work out to be $30,000 a hit and $305,000 a home run.

And if every game lasts about 2 1/2 hours, Ripken will be earning an average of nearly $16,000 an hour.

OK, that doesn't include spring training, workouts, etc., but it's still 3,544 times the minimum wage.

The annual average of the deal equals 386 times the salary of the average Baltimore worker, based on a per capita pay of $15,798.

It's far from a record.

Guiness gives that to Al Capone and the estimated $105 million he earned in 1927 which, adjusted for inflation, is impressive even when compared to junk bond king Michael Milken's $550 million peak year.

But it's 76 times what Babe Ruth earned in his best year, 1930: $80,000.

Here's how the deal works:

Ripken's salary this year will be $4.5 million which, along with half of a $3 million bonus, will make him a $6 million man. He already has received the bonus this year, and his biweekly Orioles paycheck will reflect the new salary in two weeks.

Next year he'll get a salary of $4.8 million and the other half of the bonus, or $6.3 million.

His salary will be $6 million in each of the next two years, and rise to $6.2 million in its final year, 1997.

The deal also provides for a $2 million option for post-career employment, as well as a re-opener after 1995 allowing the shortstop to file for free agency if baseball salaries pass him by.

The bottom line?

His average annual salary is roughly five times the value of his weight in gold.

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