- On this day in 1966, baseball commissioner William Eckert nullified the Atlanta Braves’ contract with Tom Seaver.
- In those days, baseball held a winter draft that was during the college baseball season and Seaver was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. USC coach Rod Dedeaux called Eckert, who said not to let Seaver sign so he could keep pitching at USC. That night, USC could not reach Seaver, who left his phone off the hook after he reached an agreement with the Braves.
Atlanta was going to tear up the contract so Seaver could finish the season with USC but athletic director Jess Hill contacted the NCAA and was told USC must declare Seaver ineligible. In a Pat Haden move, Hill complied, no doubt worried about crossing the NCAA, which had given USC sanctions in 1959.
Eckert nullified the Braves contract and three teams (Indians, Phillies, Mets) agreed to match Atlanta’s contract for Seaver. The Mets won a drawing and Seaver signed for a $50,000 signing bonus.
The entire saga probably cost USC the 1966 College World Series title.