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Beyond Rule 5: History of the 1st-Yr Draft


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#1 Eric Van


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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:52 PM

This started out as a correction to a statement in the Rule 5 thread and quickly became a historical essay that I thought would be of wider interest.

The odds of finding another Reggie Smith, the best Rule 5 pick ever made by the Sox and one of the best ever (1964 or 1965 from the Twins) are close to astronomical. 

Smith was not a Rule 5 pick. He was taken in December '63 in the draft of first-year players, which started after the '59 season (for the ’60 season) and was the precursor of the amateur draft.

The rule back then was that you had to put guys on the 40-man roster after their first minor-league season, or risk losing them in this draft (I believe this was in additioin to the rules governing veteran minor-leaguers and the 40-man roster, which were similar to today's Rule 5. But that's hazy from my sources). In fact, starting in 1963, all but one of these guys had to spend the next year on the MLB roster or be subject to waivers in ST (one guy could be the “designated optioned player.”).

The idea was to prevent the rich clubs from hoarding the "can't miss" "bonus babies." If you had a guy that everyone knew was a likely star, you had to spend a roster spot on him, and since roster spots were limited, in theory that would prevent teams from signing too many of these high-profile amateur prospects in one year. When this didn’t work as planned, they upped the ante by forcing clubs to use a 25-man spot rather than just a 40-man spot – but this hampered too many guys’ development and was widely disliked.

If anyone has a 1960 Red Sox Yearbook (my collection starts in ’61), they can figure out the list of first-year players from the player bios.

In 1961 the Sox protected P Bobby Carlson, Darrell Massey, and Wilbur Wood, and OF Pete Jernigan. (Teams would typically protect 3 or 4 players.)

In 1962 the farm system was percolating. They protected P Dave Busby, Bill MacLeod, Stew MacDonald, Dave Morehead, and Pete Smith, 1B Bobby Guindon, SS Dalton Jones, and OF Larry Wieck.

In '63, they protected P Bill Spanswick and Jerry Stephenson, 1B Jim Russin, SS Rico Petrocelli, OF Jim Gosger and Gage Naudain. Gosger was kept all year and Naudain was the designated optioned player; the others (including Rico!) appear to have cleared waivers (Stephenson after pitching one game for the Sox).

In '64 they protected P Pete Charton, Dave Gray, 1B Tony Horton, and some OF with a long Italian name. Horton was the optioned player, Charton (25 G, 65 IP, 5.28 ERA), Gray (9 G, 13 IP, 9.00 ERA), and of course Tony C were kept all year.

In '65, it was P Jim Lonborg and Jerry Vezendy, C Jerry Moses, and OF Bill Schlesinger. Lonborg and Moses were kept, Vezendy was optioned, and Schlesinger was sold to the A's. In June, they waived Vezendy and optioned Moses.

I have no idea why some form of the rule was kept after the draft was instituted, but it apparently was, with exemptions for some drafted players (a fixed number?) and unlimited options for the protected players. In ’66, it was P Paul Dowd and Robbie Robinson and C Jim Beamer; in '67, P Dick Baney, Billy Farmer, and Mark Schaeffer, and INF Ken Paulsen.

Meanwhile, guys not protected were changing teams left and right. I don’t have a list of all the guys the Sox drafted, because before 1963 or ‘64 they didn’t even need to be added to the 40-man roster (except the first year when they had to be kept on the 25-man, Rule 5 style). ’64 draftees were P Jack Gaines and Bill Rohr, SS Reggie Smith, and OF Larry Dorsch. ’65 draftees were P Mike Jackson, Sparky Lyle and Pete Magrini.

Needless to say, the system was a colossal failure in terms of both keeping competitive balance and holding down amateur bonuses. Hence the institution of the amateur draft in 1965.

The odds of finding another Reggie Smith, the best Rule 5 pick ever made by the Sox and one of the best ever (1964 or 1965 from the Twins) are close to astronomical. 

However, Amos Otis was a Rule 5 pick (minor league phase), lost by the Sox to the Mets after 1966. All we had to do was put him on the AAA roster.

Edit: clarified '66 and '67, relationship to Rule 5 draft.

Edited by Eric Van, 06 December 2005 - 08:04 PM.


#2 saintnick912


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Posted 06 December 2005 - 10:25 PM

Was the 25 man actually 24 back then? Very interesting nonetheless I haven't really read anything about the minors back in those days.

#3 Eric Van


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Posted 07 December 2005 - 12:39 AM

Was the 25 man actually 24 back then?  Very interesting nonetheless I haven't really read anything about the minors back in those days.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I believe it was indeed 24 until perhaps the early 60's. The "designated optioned player" in '63 or '64 counted against the 25-man roster, so most teams actually carried 24. The move from 24 to 25 might actually have been in conjunction with this rule.

I also recall the roster limit being 28 for the first few weeks of the season. That was changed around 1966.