Banking on Baseball
Baseball has long offered financial rewards and a path out of poverty, but despite that, most major league players had to supplement their incomes with off-season employment or savvy investments. Minor leaguers endured interminable bus rides for little pay, and semi-pro team members who were more semi than pro received little more than meal money and a crowded motel room on the road. Bob Dylan began saying that the times they were a-changing long before they did in baseball, but when pitching ace Catfish Hunter became the first modern free agent in 1974 and could accept a bid from any team, Dylan was singing a different tune—a new one about Catfish Hunter. After Hunter leveraged his two-year, $200,000 offer from the Oakland A’s into a stunning five-year, $3.5 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees, it was a whole new ball game.