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Peter Seitz

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Peter M. Seitz

[edit] Biographical Information

Peter Seitz was an American jurist who changed the business of baseball. He was an arbitrator hired by the owners to settle disputes with the players.

In 1974, Seitz ruled that Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley had breached the contract of star pitcher Catfish Hunter. Seitz declared Hunter a free agent. The new free agent signed a five-year, $3.5 million contract with the New York Yankees.

After the 1974 season, pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally chose to play the 1975 season without signing a contract. The two players' contracts were renewed by their respective ballclubs under the "reserve clause". On December 23, 1975, a three-member panel, chaired by Seitz, ruled that Messersmith and McNally were free to sign with any team as the reserve clause did not bind them to their teams forever, but for one year only.

The Seitz decision caused the owners to open the era of free agency to any player who has played out his contract and had six years of service. For his decision, Seitz was fired by the owners.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Roger I. Abrams: "Arbitrator Seitz Sets the Players Free", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 2 (Fall 2009), pp. 79-85.
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