Chicago Cubs History: Ron Santo First to Invoke 10-5 Rule

The 10-5 rule is one of the more unique in sports, as it can keep veteran players in one spot unless they consent to a trade. On this day in 1973, Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo became the first player to invoke the clause to block a trade.

These days, it is not uncommon to see a player invoke his 10-5 rights. As the player has ten years in the league, and five years with the same team, he is able to block a trade elsewhere. It is a no trade clause without being specifically written into the contract, a way for baseball players to keep from being sent away without their consent.

That rule came about after the 1972 player’s strike, allowing aging veterans to play out their final years in a place that they were comfortable. Now, instead of seeing a player like Willie Mays shipped from the Giants to the Mets, he would have been able to veto the trade. It is certainly a perk for those long time, fan favorite veterans.

On this day in 1973, the 10-5 rule was invoked for the first time by Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo. The Cubs had been looking to improve their squad, and with Santo about to turn 34 years old, they were looking to move on. As such, he was traded to the California Angels in exchange for two pitchers, Andy Hassler and prospect Bruce Heinbechner.

However, Santo had become comfortable in Chicago. Even though he had been born in Seattle, he did not want to move back to the West Coast. As such, Santo exercised his newly acquired rights, vetoing the trade and remaining with the Cubs.

The Cubs acquiesced to his wishes to remain in Chicago, and traded Santo to the White Sox a week later. In exchange, the Cubs received Steve Stone, Ken Frailing, and Steve Swisher. The trade would prove to be a disaster for Santo, as Bill Melton was already entrenched as the White Sox third baseman. Santo would attempt to play second (which did not go well) and was used as a designated hitter, a position that he hated.

After a disastrous 1974 season that saw Santo hit at a .221/.293/.299 rate with only five home runs, he hung up his cleats. However, he was not done with the Cubs, returning to the team as a broadcaster in 1990. He was again a fan favorite, finally getting his due when he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ron Santo had his baseball life entwined with the Chicago Cubs. It was understandable as to why, on this day in 1973, he became the first player to use his 10-5 rights to veto a trade.