One Long Draft

Truths and trivia as MLB's draft turns 50
June 08, 2015

IN JUNE 1964 the Angels signed University of Wisconsin outfielder Rick Reichardt with an unprecedented $200,000 bonus. Horrified about rising costs for amateur players, the owners got together and hammered out a solution: Instead of hitting the market as free agents, all eligible players would enter a draft, immediately reducing prospects' leverage. (SI readers approved: "Are we trying to develop good citizens in baseball—or only money-seeking individuals?" one wrote in after Reichardt signed.) It worked. The first-ever draft pick, Arizona State outfielder Rick Monday, signed with the A's the following June for $100,000.

The draft also addressed parity for a sport in which the Yankees had played in 14 of the previous 16 World Series (nine wins). In the new system the team with the worst record had first pick. The playing field hasn't become perfectly level, and amateurs can still make a lot of money, but 50 years later the draft is spreading the wealth. The chart below shows which states have produced the most picks and what percentage of them reached the majors.

[The following text appears within 2 maps. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual maps.]

1,702

887

536

15,538

397

466

2,121

63

47

569

334

44

44

473

875

1,646

5,137

445

646

1,040

586

1,418

378

2,167

1,071

1,311

882

1,380

1,433

1,433

645

292

2,028

36

133

124

714

143

532

1,370

1,207

1,835

1,184

1,749

1,306

175

719

D.C.

94

7,100

571

244

20

15%--16.3%

13%--14.99%

11%--12.99%

9%--10.99%

7%--8.99%

5%--6.99%

2%--4.99%

Raw data from baseball-reference.com

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

30

Hall of Famers have been chosen in the amateur draft

10 first-rounders

7 second-rounders

5 third-rounders

1 11[superscript th]-rounder

1 12[superscript th]-rounder

1 20[superscript th]-rounder

1 22[superscript nd]-rounder

4 other

The four teams most opposed to the draft—the Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals and Mets—were apparently right to feel that way: Combined they have drafted one Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan (Mets, 1965), and he went in as an Angel.

PHOTOFOCUS ON SPORT/GETTY IMAGES (RYAN) TWO MAPS CHART

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)