In 1869 Harry Wright, manager and outfielder for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, made seven times the average working man’s wage. In 1976, 107 years later, a ballplayer still made just eight times the working man’s salary. By 1994, the average major league salary would be nearly fifty times that of ordinary Americans.
“The big difference, now that players get so much, is that it has distanced them from us. It was a blue-collar sport, and people in the stands could look at these people playing ball and think of them as workers because they were getting paid workers’ salaries, and this perpetuated the illusion that with a little luck that could be me out there. The sense of “we” between fans and players was very strong in those days and players stayed on a lot longer with a team so they were familiars, like someone who worked in the same office with you almost. And all that has gone; it’s quite different now.” Roger Angell
From "Inning 9: Home 1970-1992" Ken Burns Baseball