On December 23, 1975, arbitrator Peter Seitz declares Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally free agents. Both pitchers sat out the option years of their contracts in the hopes they would become free to sign with any team. After each played for their team, the Dodgers and Expos respectively, without signing a contract during their option year, they challenged the owners' assumption that the reserve clause meant one-year contracts were automatically renewed.
This is a landmark decision, creating the first true free-agents in baseball history and will lead to an agreement with the owners, whereby all players will become eligible for free agency after six seasons.
On the day he delivers his now-historic ruling, Peter Seitz is dismissed by John Gaherin, the owners' representative in labor matters. The fired arbitrator, hired by baseball to settle player disputes, is asked by management to refrain from discussing or writing about landmark decision.
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