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Dear Mr. Baseball:What is the minimum salary...


Dear Mr. Baseball:

What is the minimum salary for major-league ballplayers?

Joe Marshall III

Bel Air

Dear Joe Marshall III:

Your question deserves a thorough, thoughtful reply, which usually rules out Mr. Baseball. But, remarkably in this case, we can help.

The answer to your specific question is that the current major-league minimum salary is $109,000, the sum earned by most rookies and players with especially lousy agents.

That may sound like a lot of money, which, of course, it is. But Mr. Baseball asks you to keep in mind that the average big-leaguer today earns more than $1 million a year, and that the mega-stars, such as Baltimore's very own Rafael Palmeiro and Cal Ripken, earn more than $6 million a year, rivaling the incomes of some of our state's most notorious savings-and-loan pillagers.

Because history is so important, Mr. Baseball would like to add that the major-league minimum has risen significantly over the years: from $7,000, when the Orioles won their first world championship in 1966, to $60,000 20 years later, to the current six-figure amount.

Dear Mr. Baseball:

Who took over as catcher for the Yankees after Thurman Munson died?

Elizabeth Marron

Woodbine, Age 10

Dear Elizabeth Marron:

Permit Mr. Baseball to explain a few things, because not every 10-year-old kid knows as much about baseball as you do:

Thurman Munson was a talented and often grumpy catcher who played 11 years with the Yankees. On Aug. 2, 1979, he was learning how to become an airplane pilot when he died in a fiery crash at an Ohio airport. It was a very sad thing, because he had a wife and a couple of small children.

Brad Gulden, a light-hitting backup, replaced Munson in the Yankees' next game. Gulden played in 40 games for the 'D Yankees that year.

A third Yankees catcher in 1979 has become familiar to Orioles fans. He appeared in 57 games for New York in 1979, including 56 as catcher. His name: Jerry Narron, Orioles third base coach.

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