It’s hard not to think about the 1994-95 MLB Players Strike from time to time right now. The current situation is slightly different, with the owners locking out the players this time, but both labor disputes led to lost games. For the first time in 27 years – since that ’94-’95 strike – games were wiped off of the calendar because of a Collective Bargaining Agreement fight.
It makes me very sad and frustrated.
In any case, with the 1994-1995 strike on the mind – and far enough in the past – previously unshared stories started to come back up over the last couple years, what with the pandemic shut down (and labor fight) and the foreknowledge that a battle was coming this year. One of the most interesting stories was a proposal that would’ve effectively created a real life fantasy baseball league, with striking stars from different teams playing together across the country:
The owners hired replacements. The striking players needed a forceful response. So, 25 years ago, they revived an old idea, one that would bring fantasy baseball to real life.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) June 4, 2020
The intro does a good job of hooking you in:
The players, weary from striking but eager to upstage their replacements, would arrive in the middle of the week. There would be workouts, youth clinics, autograph sessions, home run derbies, all for free. Then on Friday night the main event would begin, a weekend slate of games featuring teams stocked from a pool of perennial All-Stars and a dozen future Hall of Famers. In one city one weekend, Barry Bonds, Kirby Puckett and Paul O’Neill might share the same outfield, while squaring off against Roger Clemens. In another town on another weekend, it might be Pedro Martinez’s turn to stare down a lineup anchored by Frank Thomas, Larry Walker and Cal Ripken Jr.
It was fantasy baseball brought to life.
How. Freakin’. Cool.
This idea was very close to happening – Reebok was a sponsor, CBS was a broadcast partner, stadiums across the country were prepared – but it never happened: “Just days before the replacements were to start the regular season, and the players were to begin training for their renegade tour, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor effectively ended the work stoppage with an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court.”
Hopefully, we/the players never have to consider an alternative like this again. But if the current dispute rages on for much longer? If MLB doesn’t come to the table with a reasonable offer any time soon? But again … no, thanks. Let’s just do MLB, mmk?