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Warren Spahn Signs 1964 Contract with Braves, Record Figure

Jan. 23, 1964 - Warren Spahn signed his 1964 contract with the Milwaukee Braves today for a reported figure of $85,000, which would make him the highest-salaried pitcher in history. Spahn, the top-winning left-hander in baseball, signed his 20th contract with the team. “I hope we have him forever,” said John McHale, the Braves’ president and general manager. “Preferably as a pitcher, but after that in whatever capacity we can keep him.” McHale noted that the new contract put Spahn’s salaries for 20 years in the million-dollar class.

Although this would be a record basic salary for a pitcher, it would not be a record pay. Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians made more with bonuses based on games won and attendance. Feller earned $148,000 in 1946 under this contractual arrangement, with a $45,000 base pay. McHale called Spahn’s 1963 season, in which he won 23 games and lost seven, his greatest year “as a pitcher and as a man.”

“My job now is to go out and earn the money,” said Spahn. Among the records Spahn holds are those for most victories by a southpaw, 350; the most innings pitched; the most strikeouts; and the most seasons with 20 or more victories. In the American League, Norm Cash and four rookie pitchers signed their 1964 contracts today with the Detroit Tigers. Joining Cash, a first baseman, were Denny McLain, Larry Foster, Doug Gallagher, and Fritz Fisher. Foster and McLain finished the season with the Tigers last year.


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