In 1966 Tom Seaver was already a stand out pitcher, at the University of Southern California. He had been selected in the June draft, the previous year by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he demanded $70,000 & the Dodgers walked away. The next year the Atlanta Braves selected him & Seaver accepted. But then the problems began.
The Atlanta Braves signed Seaver just as the USC season had started. USC had already played two games at this point. Baseball rules state that a player can not be signed off of a college campus, once that team has started playing. Commissioner William Eckert ruled that Tom Seaver's signing with the Atlanta Braves farm team, the Richmond Braves, was illegal.
With no contract, Seaver intended to finish the year at USC. But NCAA rules state that even though his contract was no longer in effect, he lost his amateur status. Seaver & his father were upset & sought possible legal actions. The Commissioner & MLB came up with a solution.
The result was, any team who matched the Braves $40,000 offer to Seaver, would stand a chance at signing him, in a special lottery that was to be held. Three teams agreed to match the offer, the Cleveland Indians, the Philadelphia Phillies & the New York Mets.
Thankfully, the Mets won the lottery & the rest is history. Seaver went on to win three Cy Young Awards, a World Series, two NL pennants & go on to the Hall of Fame in his Mets career. He was nicknamed "the franchise" & still is the most important Mets player of all time.