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Hunter, Catfish

Catfish / Bootleg Series /
Catfish, million-dollar man Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can
New York Times slide show (will probably not be available for long)
Adam White: Has anyone mentioned Catfish Hunter? I always liked that one. as he was pitching when my mother was in labor with me, and my father was watching the game! ;-) (Ron Mura): I was never much of a Catfish Hunter fan, but he was a good pitcher, far better than average. He had good skills and was a tough competitor, often staying in games when other pitchers would have been relieved. He pitched on some lousy teams in his early years, too. The other thing that Dylan admires about Hunter is that he stood up to Finley. Hunter did not, however, establish the precedent of becoming a free agent to sign with another team; that had already occurred. One could say that all Hunter did was leave one team to go to another that would pay him more, which is commonplace today. When Hunter was asked about the song, c. 1976, he expressed annoyance, saying something like: Who is this guy Dylan to write a song about me? :-)! (saf): He was a Hall of Fame pitcher who, according to Great Peter Gammons, recently on ESPN, had better control than anyone he had ever seen. I'm a big baseball fan and I *love* this song. All of the allegory in the song is true. Finley, the owner of the A's, brought a lot of players up through his farm system, won some championships and then saw the players leave for richer teams. Hunter went to the "pinstripes" of NY. Hell, Dylan could be singing about Don Henley. (insert your own "or Lenny Bruce" or "John Lennon" lines here). I wouldn't put this song up with LARS, but if I was going to put together a "baseball tape" Catfish would certainly be on it. It does a great job of capturing the shifting of baseball from a game played by country rubes to a game played by corporate wanna-bes. Of course, if you couldn't give a shit about baseball, then none of this is relevant.
From: Larry Shapiro ( Newsgroups: Subject: Re: catfish Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 17:09:47 -0400 Elmer Eliasson wrote: > > In "Catfish" Dylans subject is a pitcher. Who was he? Can anybody give a > swedish sportsfan any information? Catfish Hunter was a great pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, the best team in baseball during 1972-1974. Following the 1974 baseball season, he brought a contract dispute with the team owner to arbitration. Contract arbitration at the time was a right recently gained by the baseball players' union. At that time, ballplayers were bound to a team by contract for life, much like serfs. They could leave the team only if traded to another team or if the team decided to release them from their contractual commitments. There was no competitive labor market for the services of players. As a result, salaries were artificially depressed. Hunter won his arbitration case and was permitted to negotiate on the open market with every team. He was signed to a lucrative contract by the New York Yankees, who became, with Hunter's help, the best team of the late 1970s. Hunter's case greatly assisted other ballplayers. Salaries went way up and the union became much stronger. Ballplayers are no longer bound to a team for life. They now have the right to salary arbitration after three years of service (it may be even less than three) and the right to shop for another employer after six years. As a result, for players with any significant seniority, salaries are now set at market levels. Hunter, a tobacco farmer, was not well-cast for the role of labor hero, never really having been much of a union activist. But his challenge of the prevailing system of contracts radically changed baseball forever.
From: Newsgroups: Subject: Re: catfish Date: Thu, 10 Jul 1997 19:06:08 -0700 ... Actually, I believe Hunter's case had virtually no effect on other players. It sounds like you're talking about the free agent system, which involved the voiding of the reserve clause that bound a player to a team in perpetuity. The reserve clause was rejected a year after Hunter's case, but Hunter's case had nothing to do with that. Basically, Hunter was able to void his contract with Finley (the Oakland owner) and sign with the Yankees because Finley had violated some technical detail in the contract. This was always a possibility; it was just very rare. Anyway, I don't want to sound nitpicky, but the big cases that led to the demise of the reserve involved Curt Flood and Dave McNally (and one other guy, I think, though I can't remember who), not Catfish Hunter. And as for arbitration, if the players had already won that right, just being the first to use it really isn't that big a deal, since somebody surely would have. -- Bob G.
From: Larry Shapiro ( Newsgroups: Subject: Catfish Again Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 00:53:40 -0400 Thanks to Bob Gill. You are right. Catfish Hunter, while the first to prevail in a significant case (perhaps the first to prevail at all, I'm not sure) in the use of the newly won right to arbitrate, did not directly challenge the reserve clause. The victory over the reserve clause was won the following year in cases by pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith. As I remember, it was in large part Hunter's victory the previous year that helped players realize that the use of the right to arbitrate contract provisions could eliminate the reserve clause, which bound players to their teams. Curt Flood challenged the reserve clause in court several years earlier and lost. Flood, baseball's true labor hero, died early this year. In any event, "Catfish" is the only song I know of about free agency in baseball.
From: JamesJust Newsgroups: Subject: Re: catfish Date: 9 Jul 1997 12:06:41 -0700 ... My favorite story involving Hunter is how he got his nickname. Supposedly, Charles Finley, the owner of the Oakland A's, decided that his players weren't colorful enough, so he came to the clubhouse one day and announced "OK, Hunter, from now on, you're the Catfish."
Excite Catfish Hunter In Critical Condition Updated 12:14 AM ET August 11, 1999 (Reuters) GREENVILLE, N.C. (Reuters) - Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, who is battling Lou Gehrig's disease, is in critical condition after falling Sunday. Hunter is unconscious and was downgraded from serious to critical condition Monday at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, according to hospital spokesman Doug Boyd. The five-time 20-game winner sustained a head injury as a result of the fall at his home in Hertford, North Carolina. He was conscious when he arrived at the hospital. Boyd would not speculate on how the latest setback would affect Hunter's battle with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), adding the family has requested that no additional information be released. Hunter, who recorded 224 victories in a 15-year career with the Kansas City-Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees, was diagnosed with ALS in November after undergoing tests at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a rare and fatal disease that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brain. The disease manifests itself in muscle weakness and loss of motor skills and leads to paralysis and, ultimately, death. The disease is named for its most famous victim, New York Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who died of the ailment in 1941 at age 37. Hunter, 53, who also is diabetic, pitched a perfect game for the Athletics on May 8, 1968 against Minnesota, but earned another place in baseball history by becoming the game's first multi-millionaire free agent, signing a five-year, $3.75 million deal with the Yankees on New Year's Eve, 1974. Hunter won at least 20 games every year from 1971-75 and helped the Athletics to three straight World Series titles beginning in 1972. An eight-time All-Star who relied primarily on pitch location and changing speeds, Hunter saved his best performances for big games. He was 4-0 with a save in World Series games for the Athletics. After winning a career-best 25 games in 1974, he was freed from his contract when an arbitrator determined Oakland owner Charles Finley had violated terms of the deal. Hunter won 23 games in 1975, his first season in New York, and the following season helped the Yankees to their first World Series appearance since 1964. While arm trouble began limiting his effectiveness, he was a member of the Yankees' back-to-back World Series championship teams in 1977-78. Hunter retired after the 1979 season with a 224-166 record and a 3.26 ERA and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. The Athletics honored Hunter June 12 and used the ceremony to raise money for ALS.
Catfish Hunter in Critical Condition GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Baseball Hall of Famer Jim ``Catfish'' Hunter, who has been suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, was in critical condition today in a neuro-intensive care unit after falling and hitting his head. The 53-year-old Hunter fell down a set of stairs Sunday at his home in Hertford, N.C., said a hospital spokesman. Hunter pitched for 15 years, winning 224 games, including a perfect game, and won five World Series rings. He played for Kansas City, Oakland and the New York Yankees. The former major league pitcher was diagnosed in September with amyothropic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
He died September 8, 1999 Hunter was one of baseball's most dominant pitchers during a 15-year career that brought him five World Series rings with the Oakland Athletics and the Yankees. He strung together five straight 20-victory seasons, pitched a perfect game and won a Cy Young Award. He became the first multimillionaire player when he was declared a free agent on a technicality after the 1974 season, then became the Yankees' workhorse the following two years, completing 51 of 75 starts and leading them to their first pennant in 12 seasons. (CNN)

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