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But two of the players in the '89 draft who got bonuses over $200,000—McDonald and Toronto Blue Jay designated hitter John Olerud—also received guaranteed major league contracts; both of them played for three years in college. That kind of evidence serves as proof that nowadays a decision to attend college can make financial sense. Scott Boras, the agent who negotiated McDonald's multimillion-dollar contract with Baltimore, recommends college for any player with the academic tools, regardless of how exceptional his baseball abilities are.
"You can go to college for a three-year program, then go right to the big leagues and get a million, maybe two million, guaranteed," says Boras. "Economically, you're much better served by going to college. There is a risk of injury, but if you are of immediate use to a major league organization, you have the ability to secure yourself considerably more money."
Todd has had an important ally helping him plot his course—Calvin Murray, who as a third baseman-outfielder for W.T White High in Dallas last spring figured to be among the top five picks in the country. Then a few days before the 1989 draft he announced that he planned to go to Texas and did not want to be drafted. The Indians still made him the 11th selection. "My coach told me Cleveland had picked me with the 11th pick in the first round, and I started laughing," Murray says. "I thought he was joking. After about 10 seconds, I noticed he wasn't laughing."
Murray listened to the Indians' offers, which newspapers reported to be as high as $300,000, but remained true to his commitment. Cleveland lost its rights to him when he attended his first college class last September. This spring, as the Longhorns' starting left-fielder, Murray is batting around .300, with 47 stolen bases.
Murray and Todd have talked almost every week during the winter and spring, and when it came time for Todd to choose a college, his friendship with Murray might in itself have cinched it for the Longhorns. But it didn't hurt that Texas coach Cliff Gustafson invited Todd to Austin for the Longhorns' annual alumni game, on Feb. 3, in which the varsity plays a team of former Longhorns who are in the major leagues. Ryan was also on hand with his son, Reid, a senior at Alvin (Texas) High who later committed to pitch for the Longhorns.
"I looked around, and Todd was over in a corner talking to Nolan Ryan," says Hank. "As a fan, I'm just gawking at these guys, and Todd's talking to Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Greg Swindell. It was pretty amazing."
It wasn't so amazing, then, that Todd decided on Texas as the place to play college ball. He told reporters, though, that he would still keep an "open mind" about the draft. While Gustafson was delighted that Todd had chosen Texas, he never really expected to see him on campus. "It's going to be awful hard for us to get a kid who can go that high in the draft," said Gustafson at the time.
Scouts from 25 of the 26 major league organizations were in the stands when Todd faced Duncanville High on Feb. 20 in a preseason scrimmage. For Martin's season opener, at Trinity High in Euless, Texas, cameras from several TV stations and about 20 scouts traveled down Highway 183 to watch. They got an eyeful. In the early season Todd was, if anything, pitching too well to suit Longhorn supporters. "We're not too optimistic [about keeping him]," said a Texas official. Todd's talents were even scaring off a few scouts. With the 16th pick in the draft, the Rangers decided it would be a waste of time to drive over to Martin High. "For us to think about him," said Rangers scouting director Sandy Johnson, "he'd have to get a disease."
Atlanta scouting director Paul Snyder was a frequent visitor to Todd's games, along with representatives of the Tigers, who will pick second in the draft. However, the clubs had still not gotten a handle on Todd's unwillingness to sign. "He's done a pretty good job of keeping his options open," said one scout in April. "But you start putting those zeroes up, it will be tough to say no."
Hank began to get letters from agents, presumably offering their services. Having acquainted himself with NCAA rules, Hank ignored the solicitations. The NCAA permits a player only to say yes or no to a pro team's offer. He cannot be represented by an agent or negotiate his contract after he has been drafted and still retain his college eligibility. Players can hire an attorney to explain a contract but by the letter of the rules cannot get advice from the attorney regarding the dollar figure on the bottom line. Says Gustafson, "How in the world can you expect a kid who's drafted not to negotiate?"