Danny Gardella

Gardella was a shipyard worker in 1944 when he joined the wartime Giants. He and brother Al, bot lefthanded New Yorkers, were with the Giants in 1945 when 5’7″ Danny hit 18 homers. Refusing the Giants’ $4,500 contract offer in 1946, Gardella jumped to Vera Cruz of the Mexican League for $10,000. Suspended for five years by Commissioner Chandler along with the other Mexican League jumpers, Gardella sued baseball, claiming he had been bound only by the controversial reserve clause, not a contract. This celebrated antitrust case against baseball, Gardella v. Chandler, was dismissed by a district court in 1948, but Gardella ‘s attorney, Frederic Johnson, won an appeal before the Second Circuit Court in 1949. Fearful of this significant threat to the reserve clause, baseball officials settled out of court for $29,000 and lifted Gardella’s suspension. Gardella joined the Cardinals in 1950 but was dropped after one at-bat. Nevertheless, his victory was the only successful challenge to baseball’s reserve clause in the federal courts. Though his cause was much maligned by players and the press, his challenge was a stepping-stone to free agency.