Sunday, August 4, 2013

Was Babe Ruth Richer Than You?

During The Great Depression George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr. was making a yearly salary of $80,000. In the early 1930s a reporter asked Babe Ruth if he thought it was right that he made more money than the president. The Great Depression was a troubled time for the world but let's give Babe some credit he had a tough upbringing and came from a rough neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. Babe played for the Yankees from 1920-1935 but was he really that rich? Even now a days an $80,000 yearly salary is considered pretty good.

Let us convert his 1931 salary into 2013 dollars using the CPI Inflation Calculator Babe was making the equivalent of $1,228,968.42 in today's dollars. Compared to Derek Jeter who according to Forbes makes about $16.4 million a year (not including $9 million from endorsements) Babe doesn't really seem that well off. Babe was known for his hitting, he set records for home runs during his time which still stand. Jeter is the Yankees' all-time career leader in hits. Should Derek make 13 times more money than Babe? Entertainment pays what can I say? We all like the guy.

Whether we take the $80,000 salary or his inflation adjusted $1.2 million yearly salary and compare it to our own it is fair to say that he had more money than us common folk. But was he really richer? We have seen that baseball players in our time are better off than "the Bambino" but how about you and I? Did Babe Ruth have access to the internet? Could he warm up before a game using an Apple iPod to play his favorite songs? Could he watch movies online and take them anywhere he wanted? Could he have access to the world and access to just about any piece of information in seconds via Google? Could he text, email or IM his buddies? He had no tablet and could not open his own online business if he wanted.

Would you be willing to give up all the luxuries, advantages and technological advances we enjoy today for $1.2 million? Before you answer there is one more thing to consider; in 1946 Babe started to experience pain over his left eye and had trouble swallowing it was found that he had an inoperable malignant tumor at the base of his skull and in his neck. His fame gave him access to experimental treatments he became one of the first cancer patients to receive both drugs and radiation treatment simultaneously. Would he give up some of that salary if not all of it to enjoy the things you and I have access to that we sometimes take for granted? I believe he would.

Inflation does eat up the value of money over time but quality of life, medical advancement and technology is something we may fail to take into consideration when we measure how well off we are.

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