The winner received a check for $2,000 and was invited back for the next week's episode against a new opponent (a rarity in that era for syndicated games); the runner-up received a check for $1,000. If a batter hit three home runs in a row, he would receive a $500 bonus check. A fourth home run in a row would be worth another $500 bonus check. Any consecutive home runs hit beyond that would each be worth $1,000. Each show would end with the host presenting each player with their prize checks (beginning with the loser)... As an incentive for throwing good home-run-hitting balls, the pitcher who threw the most pitches for home runs also received a bonus, according to the host.
Unlike more modern home run derbies, which usually award prizes in the form of charity donations to a player's choice of charity, the economic realities of the era meant that the cash prizes earned by the players on the show were a substantial income supplement.
I could not find 1959 salaries for some. Killebrew received $20,000 in 1960 for some perspective on him. Cerv received a nice hike for his one big season of 38 homer runs in 1958, which helped get him invited to participate on the program.
Home Run Derby 1960: a different perspective. Wednesday, February 5, 2014