Calcaterra: The 1994-95 baseball strike began 25 years ago today

From Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports on August 12, 2019:

On August 11, 1994, there were nine games. Pretty typical for a Thursday, which is often a travel day. Fridays are almost always full slates. But on Friday, August 12, 1994 — 25 years ago today — there were no games at all. And there would be none for the rest of the season, with nearly 950 regular season games cancelled along with the playoffs and World Series. The 1994-95 Major League Baseball Strike had begun.

Most of us who were old enough to pay close attention to the strike at the time probably remember the response to the strike by fans, the media and the general public as, at best, a “pox on both your houses” kind of thing, with the players and the owners both being blamed for the disappearance of the National Pastime. Most people, however, blamed the allegedly greedy players almost exclusively. They were millionaires who wanted more money to play a kids’ game than any of the rest of us would see in our lifetimes, the story went. Why were they striking anyway? The owners said they were going broke! All the owners were asking for was a salary cap, just like football had, and football was thriving. If it worked there, why wouldn’t it work in baseball? Why ruin what had been a wonderful, historic season to date with a work stoppage?

If only it were so simple. If only it were about the players and the owners not seeing eye-to-eye on a competing set of proposals in a given round of negotiations. Then, perhaps, a strike could’ve been easily averted. The 1994-95 strike, however, was about far more than that. It was the culmination of nearly 30 years of acrimony between the players and the owners, fueled by distrust, deceit and resentment. Thirty years which had already seen numerous skirmishes and at least one protracted battle between the sides but which broke out into full-scale war in August 1994.

Today, and in the coming days, a lot of stories will be written about what happened in 1994. Indeed, later today we’ll have stories about the wonderful 1994 season that was, sadly, cut short, a look back at the players whose careers were cut short by the strike and a look at what was, perhaps, the worst decision in baseball history — the hiring of replacement players in an effort to break the strike — which, thankfully, was never fully carried out.

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Originally published: August 12, 2019. Last Updated: August 12, 2019.