Tommy Henrich, “Old Reliable,” was the first free agent in baseball history– 37 years before the term was coined.
Under contract with several teams, he chose the Yankees, which he had followed as a boy, even though they offered him the least amount of money.
A first baseman and outfielder for the Yankees from 1937 to 1950, Henrich is known for a final at-bat strike-out which he turned into a single when the catcher dropped the ball in a 1941 World Series game. He played in the World Series three other seasons and is credited with winning a 1949 series game by making a ninth-inning hit.
After his retirement from the playing field, Tommy Henrich coached for the Yankees, the New York Giants, and finally the Detroit Tigers.