William Dole Eckert (January 20, 1909 - April 16, 1971) was a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force, and later the commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1965 to 1968. When he became commissioner, Eckert had not seen a game in person in over 10 years. He was a compromise choice for the job, previously being so obscure that sportswriters nicknamed him "the Unknown Soldier."
Just before becoming the commissioner, Eckert worked as a management consultant to the aviation industry. During this period, he served on the boards of directors of several corporations.
He incurred the public's ire by refusing to cancel games after the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and team owners' disdain because he refused to deal forcefully with substantive business issues. Anticipating a players' strike and having no ownership confidence in his ability to handle the situation, Eckert was forced to resign at the end of the 1968 season although he still had three years on his contract.
In spite of his much publicized failures and shortcomings, William Eckert also developed more effective committee actions, streamlined business methods and helped stabilize franchises with bigger stadiums and long-term leases. In addition, Eckert worked hard toward promoting the game internationally, including a 1966 tour of Japan by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Eckert earned the nickname "Spike" while playing football for the United States Military Academy.
- In 1957, at the age of 48, Eckert was commissioned lieutenant general, making him the youngest three-star officer in the United States Armed Forces.
- Eckert only became a serious candidate for the commissionership after fellow officer Curtis LeMay gave Major League Baseball a recommendation for Eckert.
- Eckert still managed to receive salary after his days as the baseball commissioner were over.
|Commissioner of Baseball|