Moore: The true threat of free agency in the 1970s

From Jack Moore at The Score on November 1, 2013:

The World Series is over, and it’s time to start counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report. That means it’s time for free agency, which somehow hasn’t destroyed the league in the 39 seasons since Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally finally broke through the reserve clause.

But make no mistake: people around baseball were afraid free agency would ruin the game, much like so many around the NCAA are afraid dismantling amateurism will ruin the charm of college football. In 1979, Petersen’s Professional Baseball Yearbook — a baseball preview magazine filled with major national writers like the New York Times’s Murray Chass — focused on violence. One of those forms of violence was the violence of inflation — player salary inflation, to be specific. 

The article in question is titled “Violent Inflation: Baseball’s Doom?” As ominous as it sounds, it begins innocuously enough. Jerry Green, a sportswriter enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, spins a few yarns about Reggie Jackson, who signed a five-year, $2.9 million contract with the Yankees in 1978. Jackson is presented as the arrogant rich athlete, the man whose hubris and lack of humility will bring the whole sport crashing down with him. The quotes, carefully selected, express this dangerous side of Jackson.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 1, 2013. Last Updated: November 1, 2013.