On January 2, 1977 MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspends Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner for one year as a result of tampering charges in the Gary Matthews free agent signing. The Braves are permitted to keep the outfielder, however. The Braves owner, an accomplished sailor, uses his free time to pursue another goal, winning this year’s America’s Cup, which he will accomplish in September.
Ted Turner was looking to change the fortunes of the Atlanta Braves almost immediately when he purchased the team. Instead, he found himself quickly on the bad side of Major League Baseball. HE signed Free agent Andy Messersmith, the first official Free Agent and he had been courting Gary MAthews before he was allowed to do so. Those efforts worked, as he signed a five year, $1.2 Million contract with the Braves.Those efforts are what lead Turner to be fined and suspended for tampering for a year.
Turner appealed his suspension, and did succeed in getting it reduced. However, he was not done battling the powers that be in baseball that year, as he earned the ire of National League president Chub Feeney after attempting to manage the team during the season.
For his part, Matthews proved to be a solid addition. He had a respectable .283/.362/.438 batting line in 1977, hitting 17 homers and stealing 22 bases. Matthews would earn his only career All-Star nod n 1979 with the Braves, when he produced a career best .304/.363/.502 batting line with 27 homers and 18 steals. Then, following the 1980 campaign, he was sent to the Phillies for Bob Walk.