I remember him hitting a grand slam in the World Series...

Monday, December 2, 2002
McNally won 20 games four straight seasons
Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Dave McNally, a three-time All-Star whose landmark victory in an arbitration case opened baseball's free-agent era and led to multimillion-dollar salaries, died of cancer at age 60.

McNally died late Sunday, John Michelotti of Michelotti Sawyers & Nordquist Funeral Home said Monday.

McNally, who won 20 or more games in four straight seasons from 1968 to 1971, quit baseball in June 1975 after starting the season 3-6 with Montreal. Even though he said he was retired, the Expos offered him $125,000 to sign a contract.

He refused and joined Andy Messersmith of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a grievance filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association, claiming the teams couldn't renew their contracts in perpetuity.

Arbitrator Peter Seitz agreed with them, issuing the decision on Dec. 23, 1975, that overturned baseball's century-old reserve clause. Owners and the union then negotiated a labor deal under which players could become free agents after they had played in the major leagues for six seasons.

With teams competing to sign the top stars, the average salary rose from $44,000 in 1975 to $2.38 million at the start of this season.

"That was one of the most momentous days in baseball history,'' baseball commissioner Bud Selig said as the 25th anniversary approached two years ago.

"The difference between winning and losing was billions and billions of dollars, maybe tens of billions of dollars,'' said Dick Moss, the lawyer who argued the case for the players' association.