William Eckert

Eckert was a retired Air Force general, a supply officer who specialized in negotiating defense contracts. When he was elected commissioner in 1965, he knew nothing about baseball’s inner workings and had not attended a game in ten years. At the time every baseball man nominated had too many enemies to gain enough votes. Eckert was quiet, bright, honest, and willing, but he was in a situation for which he had neither preparation nor aptitude. Lee McPhail was appointed administrator to help him, but Eckert became a symbol of executive futility. He incurred the public’s ire by refusing to cancel games after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the owners’ disdain because he refused to deal forcefully with substantive business issues. Anticipating a players’ strike and having no confidence in Eckert’s ability to handle the situation, the owners voted him out in early 1969 although he still had three years on his contract.