Almost nobody knew it for a month and a half, but for a while, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. was the highest-paid player in baseball for 1989.
The distinction didn't last long. But for a short time, Ripken was at the top, earning $2,466,667. That is, until Orel Hershiser's record deal Thursday made Ripken No. 2.
Ripken and the Orioles agreed last July to a three-year contract extension through the 1991 season with an option year for 1992. But they never got around to signing it until Jan. 5. By then, the terms had changed, but for a month and a half, few knew.
Originally, Ripken was to receive a $400,000 signing bonus, $2 million in 1989, $1.5 million in 1990 and $2 million in 1991.
Ripken now will get an $800,000 signing bonus, $2.2 million this season, $1.1 million in 1990 and $2.2 million in 1991. The Orioles still have an option for 1992 at $2.1 million.
By taking a prorated share of Ripken's signing bonus (one-third of $800,000 signing bonus), and adding it to his 1989 salary, Ripken overtook Minnesota's Gary Gaetti, who at the start of the year was first at $2.4 million.
Boston pitcher Roger Clemens, who signed a three-year, $7.5- million contract Wednesday, will make $2.3 million in 1989, but will average $2.5 million over the three years.
HIGHEST-PAID PLAYERS IN 1989 Here are the highest-paid baseball players in 1989. These salaries were obtained by The Associated Press from player and management sources and include prorated share of signing bonuses. The contract for Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox includes income deferred without interest, which is discounted to reflect present-day value:
PLAYER TEAM SALARY 1 Orel Hershiser Dodgers $2,766,667 2 Cal Ripken Orioles $2,466,667 3 Dwight Gooden Mets $2,416,667 4 Gary Gaetti Twins $2,400,000 5T Ozzie Smith Cardinals $2,340,000 5T Rick Sutcliffe Cubs $2,340,000 7 Jim Rice Red Sox $2,325,385 8 Roger Clemens Red Sox $2,300,000