On this Date in Baseball History
Forty-six years ago today in 1966, the Atlanta Braves signed then USC sophomore and future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver to a contract that included a $50,000 bonus. The contract was voided six days later by MLB commissioner William Eckert, who ruled that Seaver could not be signed since USC’s baseball season had already started, even though Seaver did not play in either of USC’s two games to that point. The NCAA then ruled the Seaver was ineligible to play for USC since he had signed a professional contract even though that contract was voided.
After Seaver’s father appealed to Eckert and threatened a lawsuit, Eckert allowed all teams to participate in a lottery for the rights to Seaver. All participants had to match the Braves $50,000 contract. The Mets, Braves and Dodgers put their names into the hat. The Mets won and three years later Seaver would win his first of three Cy Young Awards while leading the Mets to their first World Series title.
What you might not know though, is that the Dodgers drafted Seaver a year earlier in the 10th round of the 1965 draft. The Dodgers balked at Seaver’s asking price of $50,000 to sign. Dodgers scout Tommy Lasorda countered with a $2000 signing bonus offer. After Seaver declined, Lasorda said to Seaver, who was studying pre-dentistry at USC, “Good luck with your dental career.”
Mike Silva of NY Baseball Times offers this story of what might have been for the Dodgers.
Photo from Goldpanners.com