In early December, MLB announced that there would be a work stoppage for the foreseeable future.
After team owners and the players union could not work together to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, the owners locked out the players.
Essentially, the owners took it upon themselves to preempt any attempted strike by the players during the 2022 season.
— Jimmy 27 Yankees (@JimmyBronxNY27) December 16, 2021
In order for the ‘22 season to commence as scheduled, a host of deal points must be negotiated first.
If not, next season will not be played until a new CBA has been agreed upon.
Unfortunately, this is not a first for MLB and its players.
In fact, just such a thing took place less than 30 years ago.
The 1994-1995 Strike
After experiencing stalled negotiations to renew the CBA that expired in 1993, the 1994 MLB season began without a new CBA in place.
As the season progressed, the two sides could not come to an agreement.
The owners wanted a hard salary cap to help curb exploding player salaries.
That was the last straw for the players and they called a strike in August of ‘94.
On this day in 1994, MLB players went on strike.
All of the games that day were canceled, as well as the rest of the 1994 season.
Here's what the standings looked like before the strike. pic.twitter.com/6Bcp1TH34r
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) August 12, 2019
Of course, tensions had already been at a fever pitch for several years.
Neither side trusted that the other was conducting business in the ‘best interest of the game.’
By 1994, in addition to a salary cap, MLB owners wanted a share of the license revenues the players received each year.
Understandably, the players rejected the idea as they were receiving 100 percent of their licensed deals.
As the ‘94 negotiations dragged on, the owners attempted to withhold almost $8 million that they were required to pay into the players’ pension and benefit plans.
Then, a date of August 12, 1994, was set for a final compromise to be reached.
When that day came with no new agreement, the players went on strike.
It was soon painfully evident that negotiations were going nowhere.
Growing impatient, Commissioner Bud Selig announced on September 14 that the rest of the 1994 season, along with the World Series, would be canceled.
Due to a strike by the MLB Players Association there was no World Series in 1994. A horrible time for the sport. pic.twitter.com/FXU0NLmWZI
— Miles Commodore (@miles_commodore) December 28, 2021
For the next several months, little headway was made between the two sides.
During the 232-day ordeal, negotiators and mediators quit or failed to find a compromise.
The owners went ahead and implemented a salary cap and Selig and team owners tried to fill their rosters with replacement players.
Finally, the courts got involved and helped end the dispute.
Both a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint and an injunction filed by future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor helped tame the owners’ demands.
On April 2, 1995, the strike mercifully came to an end.
It was one day before the ‘95 season began play.
What Happened Next?
The end of the strike did nothing to curb fans’ vitriol at both owners and players.
Attendance and television ratings plummeted to a low not seen since the labor stoppage of 1981.
Fans that did attend games came armed with full-throated boos.
Several stadiums saw their fields littered with debris thrown by those attending the game.
The Montreal Expos, who had been experiencing a very good 1994 season, began a serious financial decline due to the strike.
On this day in 1994, MLB players went on strike, leading to the cancellation of the postseason and leaving us to ponder what might've been. pic.twitter.com/Ps2Ufu4Q0i
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) August 12, 2017
The franchise would eventually be sold to MLB and become the Washington Nationals.
It took several years for fans to return to the game and put their trust in MLB.
The ‘94/’95 strike remains one of the worst work stoppages in professional sports, let alone MLB history.
The consequences of the strike led to a long labor peace enjoyed by both sides until 2021.
Time will tell if the latest stoppage sees fan interest wane even more.