Who was baseball’s first free agent?

Catfish Hunter became baseball’s first free agent after complaining that Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley didn’t honor his contract, which called for $50,000 to be transferred to a life insurance fund. On December 13, 1974, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that Hunter was a free agent, and could negotiate freely with any team, a new idea in baseball at the time.

During the offseason, Hunter signed a five-year, 3.5-million-dollar contract with the New York Yankees, becoming the highest-paid player at the time. He went on to help the Yankees win three straight pennants from 1976-78, and ended up with a 63-53 record after four seasons with them.