On this date in 1966, Tom Seaver’s name was picked from a hat in a special draft, awarding him to the Mets over the Indians and Phillies.
In 1965, Seaver was originally drafted by the Dodgers following his 10-2 sophomore season. However, the Dodgers balked at Seaver’s $70,000 salary demands and he re-entered the draft for 1966. This time, the Braves took him.
Seaver signed with Atlanta, but the contract was voided by then commissioner William Eckert because his USC college team had played two exhibition games (although Seaver didn’t play).
When Seaver’s father threatened a lawsuit, Major League Baseball backtracked with the hat lottery.
There are some interesting “what ifs” had history played out differently. For example, had the Dodgers agree to Seaver’s original salary request, he and Don Drysdale could have formed an interesting tandem. No, he never would have played with Sandy Koufax, but they might have gone to spring training together in 1966, which was the Hall of Fame left-hander’s last season. Koufax retired after the World Series that year because of an arthritic condition in his left elbow.