[Tris] Speaker’s salary with the Bostons will be $18,000 a season for the next two years. Other players drawing down fancy stipends annually are: Mathewson, $15,000; Cobb, $12,000; Tinker, $12,000; Evers, $10,000; Wagner, $10,000, and Walter Johnson, $7,500...
A ball player receiving from $1,500 to $1,800 in the old days was considered fortunate by most of his fellows...
Ben Welter, who writes the "Yesterday's News" column for the StarTribune, offers the reasonable choice of Seattle's outstanding outfielder Ichiro Suzuki as a modern-day counterpart for Tris Speaker. Suzuki's salary for the 2010 season is $18,000,000.
The thousand-fold difference between the 1914 salary and the 2010 salary needs to be adjusted for inflation. Using one of the web-based inflation calculators, one can determine that Tris Speaker's $18,000 salary in 1914 would be equivalent to about $381,000 in 2010. Suzuki's salary is 50X that, and Suzuki is not major league baseball's highest paid player - he ranked 12th in 2009, well below Alex Rodriquez ($33M).
Similar results could almost certainly be generated for all professional sports (and for many other professions as well).
Thus, a "meteoric rise" is a rise to the mid-atmosphere, not a fall as your link implies.