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
"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
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.
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
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."
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
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?"