On December 31, 1974, the New York Yankees announce the signing of free agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, ending an unprecedented bidding war when he inks a five-year, $3.75 million dollar contract. This is triple the salary of any other major league player.
Hunter had been declared a free agent only 18 days earlier, after Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley had failed to make an insurance payment and an independent arbitrator ruled that Finley had violated the contract, making Hunter a free agent. In 1974, Hunter won 25 games, forged a league-leading 2.49 era and won the Cy Young Award in helping the A’s to their third consecutive World Series title. In 1975, Hunter will win 23 games for the Yankees and will help New York to a pair of World Championships in 1977 and ’78. He will win election to the Hall of Fame in 1987.