Deane: When holding out was in

From SABR member Bill Deane at WordPress on February 16, 2017:

We don’t hear much about baseball holdouts any more, in this age of multi-year contracts, salary arbitration, and free agency. Until the late 1970s, “holdoutitis” (as some writers referred to it) was common at this time of the year, and could be counted on to provide grist for the media mill in an otherwise slow season.

Baseball contracts are mailed out to each player during the winter, to be signed and returned to management without undue delay. Traditionally, anyone who has not signed by March 1 is termed a “holdout” (although former Yankees’ G.M. Lee MacPhail wouldn’t use the dreaded H-word, preferring “absentee” in its stead).

In the old days, the owners had all the leverage when it came to negotiations. Under baseball’s reserve clause, a club had exclusive right to a contracted player’s services until it traded or released him. As noted writer F. C. Lane put it in 1932, “The player is at a disadvantage in a salary wrangle with his club. If he delays signing a contract beyond a certain date, he becomes automatically blacklisted. He is virtually shut off from further activities in his profession. His only real recourse is to quit the game, (but in so doing) he ‘cuts off his nose in spite of his face.’”

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 16, 2017. Last Updated: February 16, 2017.