This day in baseball: End of the reserve clause

Peter Seitz (Photo source: New York Times)

On December 23, 1975, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that Major League ballplayers became free agents after playing for one year for their team without a contract. ┬áPrior to the 1975 season, pitchers Andy Messersmith of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dave McNally of the Montreal Expos had not signed contracts with their respective teams, but rather those contracts had been renewed according to the reserve clause, which, baseball owners argued, perpetually renewed one-year contracts automatically. ┬áSeitz’s ruling now nullified the reserve clause, and Messersmith and McNally became baseball’s first true free agents.