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1994 strike

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The 1994 Strike was a traumatic event in baseball history. In 1994 the post-season and approximately the last 50 games of the season were cancelled due to a player's strike called by the MLBPA and their leader Don Fehr. The World Series was not played for the first time in 90 years. This led to a tumultuous off-season where the owners declared an impasse and attempted to implement their own rules. The strike was ended by a ruling from US District Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, at the end of March, 1995, just as the owners were prepared to start the season by using replacement players. The ruling forced the two sides to come to an agreement, and the 1995 season was amputated by approximately 20 games as a result, beginning at the end of April. Ironically, the umpires decided to go on strike just as the two parties settled their dispute, so the 1995 season opened with regular players - but replacement umpires.

The main issue was - as had been the case in previous labor disputes - the supposed out-of-control rise in salaries that was threatening the financial survival of many teams, or so the owners argued. The strike left bitter feelings all around, and did not really resolve the underlying problems. However, the damage caused by the stoppage was recognized by everyone, and as a result, when the next showdown came, in mid-2002, the two parties proved to be ready to make concessions in order to avoid a similar outcome, leading to an extended era of labor peace and growth of revenues - and salaries.

The biggest losers of the strike are generally considered to be the Montreal Expos, who had the best record in the majors at the time the strike was called on August 11th, but dismantled their great team through a fire sale before the 1995 season, a decision that eventually led to the franchise's relocation within a decade; Tony Gwynn, who lost his best shot at hitting .400 (he was at .394 when the strike ended his season); Matt Williams, who had hit 43 homers and had a legitimate shot at Roger Maris' record of 61; and Michael Jordan, who was playing in AA and would likely have been give a chance to play for the major league Chicago White Sox in September. Others like future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage saw their career end on a sad note. The Strike also marked the end of the independent Commissioner era, as the owners, unwilling to have to deal with a commissioner who would question their maximalist positions, decided to appoint one of their own, Bud Selig, as acting commissioner.

[edit] Further Reading

  • William B. Gould IV: Bargaining with Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2011.
  • Bob Nightengale: "1994 strike most embarrassing moment in MLB history", USA Today, August 11, 2014. [1]
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