SI Vault
The $3,300,000 smile
James Murray
February 29, 1960
Walter O'Malley can afford it. Last year, his jolly Dodger crew made more money than any other team in baseball history
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February 29, 1960

The $3,300,000 Smile

Walter O'Malley can afford it. Last year, his jolly Dodger crew made more money than any other team in baseball history

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Dodger expenses for 1959 thus wound up in the area of $3,600,000. This is nearly a million and a half more than the expenses in Brooklyn in 1956, the last World Series year, when they were $2,216,175. However, Walter O'Malley and his jolly crew still had a net income before taxes of at least $3,300,000.

But the Dodgers' and O'Malley's windfall has not gone unnoticed in Los Angeles nor has it been universally cheered. One of the first results of the big year was that the Coliseum commission was wearing its old face when the wily Walter came forward to seek an "equitable" deal for the use of the Coliseum in 1960. The commissioners reminded O'Malley that he had signed his two-year lease with the clear understanding that should a third year be necessary he would have to sign on at the standard pre-Dodger-era rate. The Coliseum in 1960 will get 10% of the gross and all income from the concessions.

By last year's figures, this would come to $800,000, or an increase of $500,000. To O'Malley's credit, he put up only token resistance and quickly capitulated—even though, at 70-plus games a year, the Dodgers brought in seven times as much business at the Coliseum as football teams did.

It appears likely that the Dodgers will have the biggest National League player payroll in 1960. Gil Hodges and Duke Snider will again head the list with approximately $39,000 each. Wally Moon rises from $20,000 to $30,000. Don Drysdale goes up from $17,000 to $27,000. Charlie Neal will get $24,000, up from $19,000. Carl Furillo $25,000, Clem Labine $23,000, Jim Gilliam $22,000, and Roger Craig, $17,000, a raise doubling last year's $8,500. Catcher John Roseboro goes from $10,000 to $16,000. Larry Sherry gets a deserved 100% raise to $14,000, and Sandy Koufax' strikeouts merit his jump from $14,000 to $17,000. Bonus boys Frank Howard and Ron Fairly, who have already banked nearly $200,000 between them just to sign, will get standard $8,000 contracts but with provisos for premiums.

Off the field, the line is forming at the O'Malley pay window, too. Pained at the high cost of living in the Coliseum, O'Malley is more anxious than ever to complete his new stadium in Chavez Ravine. He has had to buy up at exorbitant prices 12 parcels of real estate to complete his acreage. One home site in the ravine was owned by an embittered son of a onetime British army officer. The son blamed his father's death from a heart attack to wrangles he had had over the land. The site was appraised at $9,000. His home was sold to the Dodgers at $150,000. Another parcel appraised at $15,510 cost the Dodgers $130,000.

When these costly bases have been safely touched, Walter O'Malley, living in baronial splendor in the pseudo-alpine fastness of Lake Arrowhead, 100 miles east and 5,000 feet up from Los Angeles, will start building his $8 million ravine stadium, the ownership of which the Dodgers will share with no one.

So just how are things with the Dodgers and O'Malley? Just fine, thank you, or rather, let O'Malley thank himself. He saw the gold in the West and, superlative businessman that he is, cornered a nice solid part of it.

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