#43 The Holdout


54 Years ago, The Holdout happened.  It was crazy.  It was shocking.  Looking back at it, it was amazing.

Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, at the height of their careers were holding out, not agreeing to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers until Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers agreed to sign both of them at the contract price they were wanted….wow, this was unheard of and the numbers were crazy.

Some of the crazy numbers to consider:

– The Dodgers were coming off the 1965 season where they had won the World Series, beating the Minnesota Twins in 7 games. Koufax was named MVP of the series.

– In 1965 Sandy Koufax won 26 games.  Drysdale won 23 games.  Combined they had more than 50% of the Dodgers 97 wins that year; pretty good years for both of them.  In fact Drysdale’s win total in ‘65 was 5 more wins than he would record in any other year of his career.  It was one win short of the career high for Koufax.  Koufax won the Cy Young award for best pitcher in the National League.  He received 100% of the votes.  He finished 2nd in the voting for MVP of the league.  Drysdale finished 5th in the MVP vote.

So, when 1966 rolled around, and it was time to renew contracts, the boys were considering some other crazy numbers.  To keep it in perspective this was before the huge TV contracts, and before sport’s agents were involved, both of which led to higher salaries and benefits. 

Drysdale and Koufax decided to work together and negotiate a deal that neither would agree to nor sign unless both were satisfied.  Their demands?  $1M dollars for 3-years for the two of them combined; basically, about $160,000 apiece, per year…

Of course compared to today’s salaries, this seems incredible.  Here are some other crazy numbers to consider:

– Mike Trout makes $35,000,000 a year (thirty-five million).

– Clayton Kershaw, a Dodger pitcher often is compared to Koufax, $31,000,000 per year.

– Derek Jeter was paid over $265,000,000 over his career (19 years).

–  Current Value of the Dodger franchise = $3.3 Billion

– $3.3 Billion = 33,000 X $100,000

Drysdale and Koufax never got their $1million deal.  They ended up signing contracts for $125,000 (Koufax) and $110,000 (Drysdale).  These were unheard of raises of $40,000 for Sandy and $30,000 for Don, oh my.  Of course if you put the $125,000 into today’s dollars, 55 years later, it does get you to about $1 million dollars, which is still about 1/35th of what Mike Trout was paid last year.

The Holdout.  I guess timing is everything.  Koufax and Drysdale hit it big in 1966.  They got huge raises which resulted in un-heard of salaries.  Sandy retired after striking it rich, at the end of the 1966 season.  He won 27 games in ‘66, and he decided to leave when he was at the top.  He was 31 years old.

Drysdale retired in 1969 at the age of 33 after 4 fairly mediocre years…but he had made a killing.

SSOMG thinks timing is everything.  Unfortunately these guys had great careers a bit before the era of big paydays.  It does make you wonder though; do we really think that Clayton Kershaw is worth 248 times what Sandy was worth in 1966?  Or even 31 times as good?   Go Dodgers.  Hopefully we will soon see a major league game again soon, no matter how much they pay them!

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