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PressBox: Dave McNally

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I posted this 4 years ago, in regard to McNally and his character as a person.

 

 

On 3/9/2014 at 11:45 PM, OFFNY said:

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After McNally was traded to the Expos prior to the 1975 season, he had a very sub-par year. He had nothing left in his arm, and decided to retire.

A much more interesting story came of McNally's retirement, though. At the time, the battle for free agency between Marvin Miller (and the Player's Union) and the owners was in full swing. Although Curt Flood lost his case in the Supreme Court back in 1971, it got the ball rolling. One year prior to McNally's retirement, Catfish Hunter was declared a free agent due to a violation in his contract by Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley.

The next year, Andy Messersmith wanted to test the free agent waters after pitching without a contract in '75. Marvin Miller wanted to use McNally as leverage in Messersmith's case, and asked him to declare himself a free agent, even though they both knew that McNally had no intention of pitching any longer. The G.M. of the Montreal Expos (Jim Fanning) was aware of McNally's situation, and Miller's desire to use him to help Messersmith (and subsequently ALL baseball players) with their case for free agency. Fanning literally  went to McNally's house ....... he claimed that he "just happened to be passing through Billings, Montana," and thought that he would come by to visit. Even though Fanning knew that McNally was finished as a pitcher, he offered him a guaranteed $50,000, and a trip to the Expos' training camp in Florida. Keep in mind that at that time, the minimum salary for a Major Leaguer was only $19,000, so the $50,000 guarantee was a lot of money. Plus, it would have essentially been an expense-paid vacation for McNally in sunny Florida.

Before signing anything, McNally called Marvin Miller and told him what Fanning had offered. As much as Miller needed McNally, he also felt badly about asking him to pass up a free $50,000, plus a trip to Florida in February. Miller left it up to McNally. McNally said, "If you need me, I'm here," and declined to take the money (and the expense-paid trip to Florida) that was offered to him. Messersmith and McNally were both subsequently declared free agents by Peter Seitz, opening the door for the boom (in free agency) that came the following offseason.

Hence, McNally (in my rat's ass of an opinion) chose integrity over easy money, and along with Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith, Catfish Hunter, and Marvin Miller, has subsequently gone down in history as one of the major players in the Player's Union's early fight (and victory) for free agency.

 

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