However, Miller had a difficult time finding a player willing to pitch a season without a contract. Some players elected to do so, but owners would eventually offer the player a contract, many times for a little more money. The owners were aware of what the players were trying to do, so the investment of the extra money made it so they could retain control of the player for the following season. 1975 was the year Miller finally got a player to play without a contract. Messersmith was at odds with Dodgers GM Al Campanis and it hit a point where Messersmith would not negotiate with anybody that was under team president Peter O'Malley.
This would result in Messersmith pitching the 1975 season without a contract. So did Expos LHP Dave McNally, however, McNally was just about ready to hang up his career. He chose not to sign a contract with the understanding he may not finish the season. McNally would miss the rest of the season due to injury and intended to retire. But, because he had pitched in 1975 without a contract, Miller convinced him to be part of the grievance with Messersmith.
Arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in favor of the players, and was immediately fired by the owners after the trial. Messersmith was granted free agency after the season and so was McNally, though the latter stuck to his promise to retire. This brought about the new agreement regarding MLB free agency, which stated a player with six years of continuous service in the majors could be eligible for free agency. However, Catfish Hunter was declared a free agent after the 1974 season, after being unable to reach agreement with owner Charley Finley. Of course, he signed with the Yankees.