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  • Arthur Soden’s Legacy: The Origins and Early History of Baseball’s Reserve System

    For nearly one hundred years from its creation by an ownership group in 1879 until a decision in 1975 by an arbitration panel concerning the contractual status of pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith, baseball’s reserve system was the foundation of organized baseball’s relationship with its players. The interlocking combination of agreements in a player’s contract that constituted the reserve system effectively tied that particular athlete to one team unless that team decided to trade or release the player. The system worked to both depress salaries and discipline players who might otherwise abandon their contracts seeking higher salaries from a different team.