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Sports Then and Now



There is Nothing Free About Free Agency 0

Posted on March 13, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Legend has it that future Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo (51) was traded by the Packers after bringing an agent to contract negotiations.

Legend has it that future Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo (51) was traded by the Packers after bringing an agent to contract negotiations.

If he were still alive, I wonder what NFL Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo would think about the concept of an “un-capped” NFL salary structure or of the multi-million dollars in guaranteed money being given to players with only average NFL  pedigrees.

As legend has it, Ringo, an All-Pro center and anchor of the Packer’s vaunted offensive line, brought an agent with him to contract negotiations with Green Bay Packer head coach Vince Lombardi prior to the 1964 season. Lombardi then excused himself and when he returned five minutes later told Ringo and his agent that they would have to go to Philadelphia to discuss his new contract because he had just been traded to the Eagles.

Some historians claim that the actual incident between Ringo and Lombardi is just a myth, but what isn’t a myth is the sacrifice that many athletes from the past made to ensure that the players of today are able to freely negotiate and sign lavish contracts.

For more than a half-century, the contract of every player in Major League Baseball included what was known as the “reserve clause”, which bound a player, one year at a time, in perpetuity to the club owning his contract. Basically, it meant that the player was tied to the team until the team chose to trade or release the player and he had no opportunity to pursue employment with another organization on his own terms. As professional sports leagues started in football, basketball and hockey, owners in those leagues essentially emulated baseball’s “reserve clause.” Read the rest of this entry →

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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