Free agency is such a normal fact of life amongst baseball fans that it is kind of amazing for me to realize that MLB free agency is younger than I am.
But it is -- 40 years ago today, an arbitrator found that Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally had played out their options, and were, as a result, free agents, striking the death blow to the reserve clause in MLB.
Craig Calcaterra has a good write-up on the Messersmith and McNally decisions, and the issues leading up to it. I'm not going to re-hash all of that, and will just direct you to Craig's post. That said, I also think it is worth remembering what a huge deal this was, and what a watershed moment this ruling 40 years ago was. Up until that point, if you were a player and wanted more money or wanted to pitch for another club, your only option was to hold out.
Now? Now, players just have to bide their time until they have six years of service time and can hit the open market -- something unthinkable 40 years ago.
Today should be MLBPA 4th of July, if you think about it, and every player should be thanking Messersmith, McNally, Curt Flood, Marvin Miller and the others who fought for them to have the right to be paid what they are worth.