Friday, February 10, 2012
no. 15 - andy messersmith
Who is the man: Andy Messersmith had just completed his third season in the major leagues, all with the California Angels. He was about to blow up in 1971 with the first of his two 20-game win seasons. And he did it all without the curly locks that he was known for with the Dodgers.
Can ya dig it: My brother had one of those magnet boards as a kid in which you could place all the magnets of the major league teams in order by how they were positioned in the standings. The magnets were the logos of the time -- the 1970s. The Angels logo in the '70s was the logo you see on the sleeve of Messersmith's uniform. It was far taller than any of the other logos. Given the limited space that you had to place each team in their proper spot, the Angels logo was always poking other magnets out of their places. It drove me crazy, and it wasn't even my magnet board.
Right on: Messersmith is just one of 17 pitchers to win 20 games in both the American and National leagues.
You see this Messersmith is a bad mother: Well, Messersmith is most famous for ousting the reserve clause and ushering in free agency -- a way of life for the insanely rich ball players of today. I can't think of anything more bad-ass in terms of the life that players live today. He should get a cut of all their salaries.
Shut your mouth: Messersmith began the contentious contract negotiations with the Dodgers during spring training in 1975. According to the book "The Lords of the Realm," by John Helyar, published in 1994, Messersmith became so offended during contract talks, after Dodgers GM Al Campanis brought up something personal, that Messersmith refused to negotiate with anyone other than Dodgers president Walter O'Malley. Messersmith reportedly has never disclosed what Campanis said.
No one understands him but his woman: When Messersmith won his free agency, he signed a 3-year contract with the Braves for $1 million. He struggled to live up to the contract. Today, a player making the major league minimum basically has Messersmith's contract. He'll make the same amount in three years.
(A word about the back): I like how Topps completely glosses over Messersmith's record in 1970. Just not flashy enough, I guess.