From SABR member Jason Turbow at The National Pastime Museum on August 8, 2016:
When an arbitrator ruled that A’s owner Charlie Finley had defaulted on payments for Catfish Hunter’s 1974 contract, it resulted—above Finley’s vociferous objection—in free agency for the player. The occasion was momentous, but hardly groundbreaking. Hunter set the table for the arrival of widespread free agency a year later, but his forebear in contract default preceded him by nearly four decades.
Before Tommy Henrich became a five-time All-Star outfielder and four-time world champion with the New York Yankees of the late 1930s and 1940s, he was a schoolboy phenom in Massillon, Ohio . . . in a sport other than baseball. “He is one of the few big leaguers who have ever been offered a contract in organized baseball on the basis of their showing in softball,” reported the New Yorker in 1949, concerning Henrich’s starring stint with the local nine, sponsored by the Hoffman Drugs Company.
The offer came from Henrich’s hometown Cleveland Indians in 1934, and with it a three-season shuffle through the minor leagues. He peaked in 1936 with the organization’s top farm club in New Orleans, batting .346 while leading the team in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs, and ranking in the Southern Association’s top four in each category. For the 23-year-old Henrich, an imminent summons to the big leagues seemed certain.
Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/tommy-henrich-set-free
Originally published: August 8, 2016. Last Updated: August 8, 2016.