The Era of Labor Unrest Begins
The ﬁrst half of Commissioner Eckert's ﬁrst term in oﬀice was relatively peaceful and not without accomplishments, among them the signing of the ﬁrst Basic Agreement between the owners and the players' union, the successful (if controversial) reconﬁguration of each league into two divisions and the subsequent creation of the championship series to determine the World Series combatants, and the reduction of the pitcher's mound following the non-oﬀensive 1968 season. Nevertheless, the owners were so embarrassed by Eckert—even though they had sought such a functional nonentity for the position—that during the 1968 winter meetings they informed the general of his resignation.
In February 1969, while continuing to search for a better candidate, the owners designated National League attorney Bowie Kuhn as an interim commissioner, but during the summer they made the appointment permanent. Their decision was applauded by the press, and with some reason. Kuhn was knowledgeable about baseball's backroom politics, was a fan of the game, and was not reluctant to speak to reporters. Within a few months the new commissioner acted to defuse several controversies, including two trades in which the primary players involved decided to retire rather than report to their new clubs. Kuhn intervened in each case, and the players rescinded their retirements after receiving signiﬁcant salary boosts. Kuhn's willingness to exercise the powers of his oﬀice to the fullest extent so early in his term earned him both allies and enemies in quick order.
During the World Series a third prominent player, known for being outspoken, announced his retirement after being traded. Under the circum