'Oh my God, how can we do this?': An oral history of the 1994 MLB strike

Remembering the 1994 MLB strike 25 years later (2:15)

Tim Kurkjian, Jeff Passan and Mark Teixeira reflect on the ramifications of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike. (2:15)

It was the summer of 1994, and, on the field, baseball was thriving. Pennant races were developing. The Yankees were in a revival. The Expos looked like they might make history -- and, in hindsight, possibly save baseball in Montreal. Players were having spectacular seasons, none better than future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who at .394 was chasing the first season with a .400 batting average since Ted Williams in 1941. Minor leaguers awaited a September call-up, in some cases to make their major league debuts. And kids everywhere, including a 9-year-old from Visalia, California, were living life through baseball.

But when midnight ET struck on Aug. 12, so did the players. In part because the owners wanted to implement revenue sharing with the use of a salary cap -- which the Major League Baseball Players Association refused to accept -- the 31 players on the union's executive board had voted unanimously two weeks before to go on strike if an agreement wasn't reached. A deadline had been set. It had passed, and the strike was on.

"A strike is a last resort," Donald Fehr, then the executive director of the MLBPA, had said. Now the moment fans feared, and so many in the game had hoped would be avoided, became official that fateful Friday morning: There would be no games played that day.

The news was crushing, from New York to Montreal to Los Angeles, and especially awful for then-acting MLB commissioner Bud Selig, in his office in Milwaukee. Each day without a deal would get progressively worse, and on Sept. 14, Selig announced the World Series would be canceled for the first time since 1904.

Exactly 25 years later, Selig and others closest to the conflict share their recollections of the day baseball went dark, the immediate aftermath and the long-term fallout.

Aug. 12, 1994: 'I knew that games were canceled, and they were gone forever'

GENE ORZA (MLBPA associate general counsel/COO, 1984-2011): I was the guy who made the phone calls to the player reps, to tell them "OK, we are on strike. Go home." That was all I had to say. The day itself doesn't hold any particular significance for me -- I know what the date is -- because I knew it was coming. The players were being distributed licensing revenue, we did it two or three times that year, they got $10,000 per check. One of the general managers said, "It's hard to beat the union when they have $300 million in the bank." We had a lot of money. Don [Fehr] ran a very tight ship.

The players were fully prepared [to go on strike]. There wasn't a peep from the players on the 12th, not a peep. In the weeks after that, there was an occasional moment when Joe Bag Of Donuts said something, and someone had to get on the horn, but there was very little of that. The focus was simply on getting a deal. But I pretty much knew on Aug. 12 [that we were going to be on strike for the rest of the season]. We couldn't make them cancel the season. We didn't want them to, but they were going to. We knew that before Aug. 12.

There were some players who complained about not playing, but not many, a handful maybe. But it was usually the players that hadn't attended the meetings. All of the big guns in the sport -- the [Cal] Ripkens, the [Dave] Winfields, the [Eddie] Murrays, the [Kirby] Pucketts, the [Orel] Hershisers -- they were really, really solid. I don't know if this is right, but I always had the feeling that there was a constellation of reasons that we were able to go on strike from Aug. 12 to March, 232 days, without one current player defecting. It was an unheard of level of solidarity. I always felt there was a desire among baseball players to prove that they were tougher than football players and basketball players. You know, "We are different. We can't be pushed around as much as they can."

BUD SELIG (MLB commissioner, 1992-2015): I remember spending much of that day talking to Sal Bando, general manager [of the Brewers, who were owned by Selig], and Phil Garner, our manager, both of whom had great union ties. It was a very sad day, a very sad day. I was hoping against hope that it wouldn't come. With all the successes that came later in my career as commissioner, that was a tough moment in my life.

Everyone was calling me that day. I knew that games were canceled, and they were gone forever. It was a sinking feeling of heartache, nausea, and ... well, the relationship between the parties was bad. It had been bad since my first major league meeting in 1970. I was all excited. I was 34 then. The meeting was all about labor. And it was ugly. [Tigers owner] John Fetzer, my mentor, said to me, "We're going to pay an awful price for this someday." Boy, did he turn out to be right. And for the next 25 years, it never got any better.

"Everyone was calling me that day. I knew that games were canceled, and they were gone forever. It was a sinking feeling of heartache, nausea, and ... well, the relationship between the parties was bad. It had been bad since my first major league meeting in 1970."
Bud Selig, then-MLB commissioner

FELIPE ALOU (Montreal Expos manager, 1992-2001): Four days before the strike, my dad died in the Dominican Republic. I went home to bury my dad. I knew the strike was imminent, I was just hoping it wouldn't happen. When I got back from the Dominican, we were in Pittsburgh, I went straight from the airport to the ballpark. Zane Smith shut out the Expos. Before our game was over, they had called a strike. But we had to finish the game first. There were still people in the stands.

I couldn't believe the season was ending. I thought they could fix it. But I don't know who "they" is. I thought the game was bigger than that. When the strike began, we went back to Montreal, then I went to my home in West Palm Beach [Florida]. I went to the ballpark, and I ran into [Atlanta Braves pitcher] Tom Glavine [the Expos and Braves shared a spring training facility in West Palm Beach]. Tom was picking up stuff from spring training that he had left at the ballpark. That was not a good sign. He was on the committee that represented the players. He said it was too bad this was over, then he said, "It's too bad for you guys. You guys put fear in us." I believed right then that that was the end of the season.

TOM GLAVINE (Braves pitcher, 1987-2002, 2008): I was involved in the lockout in 1990, and I didn't like the feeling of not knowing what was going on. That's why I got involved, because I wanted to know, and before long, it seemed like me and [then-Kansas City Royals pitcher] David Cone were always the ones out in front answering questions.

Anyone who knows me knows whatever I do, I'm going to do it to the best of my abilities. The only mistake I made was I never turned down an interview in hopes that I could change people's minds. I learned I couldn't. You're either on our side or you're not.

BUCK SHOWALTER (New York Yankees manager, 1992-95): We were hoping it was just a three- or four-day thing, so I went straight to instructional league. But we were all in uncharted territory.

We were asking each other, "What do we do now? How do we handle this? How do we explain this to our family and friends?"

F.P. SANTANGELO (then an infielder for the Ottawa Lynx, the Expos' Triple-A affiliate): It was a weird time, but when the strike happened, we thought, "Hey, we are the highest level of baseball that's still playing." So we went about it like business as usual.

We thought when it ended, we'd get called up. None of us envisioned it ending the season. Then it kept going and going and going. And we're thinking, "Wow, this is not going to end."

STEPHEN VOGT (current San Francisco Giants catcher, 9 years old at the time and living in Visalia, California): My brother Danny, who was 13, we were avid Giants fans, avid baseball fans, always playing baseball, pretending to be the Giants, playing video games. The biggest thing for us, as kids, was we didn't understand the difference between the players and the owners, it was, "Why would they lock out? Why would they strike? Why would they stop playing baseball?"

We didn't understand the business side because kids don't understand that stuff. We didn't understand why our team, which was in first place at the time, didn't get a chance to play in the World Series. [Giants third baseman] Matt Williams didn't get a chance to break the home run record, because he was on quite the pace [Williams had 42 homers when the strike happened]. For us kids, the not understating part was the hardest part.

My brother told me that day that he didn't think there was ever going to be baseball again. I said, "What's going on? When is this going to end? When are we going to watch our favorite players again?" I just remember being really sad about that. We were playing our favorite video games, Ken Griffey Jr. [Presents Major League Baseball] on Super Nintendo; all of a sudden, we looked at each other and said, "We wish we could watch them play, we wish we could go to a game."

KENT HRBEK (Minnesota Twins first baseman, 1981-94, drove in three runs on Aug. 11): I had announced my retirement earlier that season, so instead of playing my last game at the end of September, it was the middle of August. There wasn't sadness for me. When the season was canceled, I just took the [protective] cup that I wore all those years, grabbed a hammer and nailed it to the wall in my garage.

My cup is still nailed to that wall.

Sept. 14, 1994: 'On the day that they canceled the World Series, there was laughter coming out of that room'

Selig saddened by end of 1994 MLB season

Flash back to SportsCenter on Sept. 14, 1994, when Bud Selig addressed the cancellation of the rest of the MLB season, including the World Series, because of a strike.

A wonderful season was lost -- including the first World Series cancellation in 90 years -- mostly due to the threat of a salary cap. The owners determined a cap was necessary to slow escalating player salaries. They would implement a cap in December 1994, but that never actually had any practical value and was so low that, during the 1994 season, 21 of the 28 teams at the time would have broken it. The players would not accept a salary cap under any circumstance. Their counterproposal was a luxury tax, which resembles the one in place today.

SELIG: After three weeks [into the strike], Bando and Garner told me, "We're done, the players were out of shape, they can't play." But Don didn't want to hear about it. It was a sad, stunning moment when you think that we lost a World Series, and we lost a wonderful season. It was terrible. Horrible. Terrible.

[Angels owner] Jackie Autry told me, "Don't make the announcement, they'll blame you." Someone had to make the announcement. I did get blamed for it: The guy that canceled the World Series. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I inherited a mess. The system hadn't been changed since the '30s. I was in the middle, I'll take responsibility for our side.

ORZA: They [the owners] were gunning for a stoppage. It goes back to 1990. The Basic Agreement was completed that year in the old conference room in the commissioner's office. The executive council was in New York; they were all in [commissioner] Fay Vincent's office. We had a deal, we were packing up our stuff, when I heard them screaming and yelling at the commissioner. I could hear them from 60 feet away. I said to [Mark] Belanger [who worked for the union], "Well, this one is done, but the next one is going to be worse."

I knew in 1990 that Fay was on the ropes. Bud was going to take it over. Bud fancied himself as the great negotiator. He had a salary cap on his mind. And he was going to show everyone how to get it.

On the day that they canceled the World Series, there was laughter coming out of that room. They were laughing, they were happy that they were able to hold the group together. They weren't happy that the World Series was canceled, no one wanted that, but they held to their strategy to hold firm because this was going to take the players into the offseason, and they were going to bang them with replacement players. Aug. 12 was not a big deal to me because I knew we were going on strike because we had no alternative. They were going to get a salary cap. That was their objective.

SELIG, on whether there was laughter -- metaphorical or otherwise -- coming from baseball executives on the day the World Series was canceled: Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God: Nothing could be further from the truth. It broke my heart. I love the game. I worry about the game. The night we announced from the second floor in County Stadium, that little room, I went home that night and I sat alone almost in shock, and I replayed, in my head, every World Series, starting with 1944, that I could remember. That is all I did until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning.

I was heartbroken. I remember saying to myself that night, "My God, we've been through World War I, World War II, we've been through Vietnam, Korea, everything, and somehow, and my God, we lost a World Series." It was shattering for me.

ALOU: If we had finished that season, and they kept that team together, Montreal would have a new stadium right now, and the Expos would be playing it in. We had the best team in baseball. That really was the end of baseball in Montreal.

That is something that you take to your grave. We had won 20 out of 24 games heading into that strike. Our club was destroying teams. We were getting better. What makes it harder is that we were so good. That was the best team I ever managed. That was an invincible team. There was no telling how good that team could be. We had all the ingredients, but we didn't have the money to protect our players. We were packing Olympic Stadium, 40,000, 45,000 fans, every night. After the strike, they broke up that team just because of money. Our club president, Claude Brochu, was a promoter of playing with replacement players. He was on the committee that recommended that for baseball.

I can talk about all this more comfortably now, I couldn't talk about it at all for a long time. I was 58. I had a chance to manage a team in the World Series. It was tough. It was really tough for the fans. Montreal became a real baseball town with that kind of team. They learned to love the kids on our team. Everyone took to baseball because of that team.

They have the land to build a new stadium there now. I hope it works. The fans want the Expos back. They can't believe that they left. They felt they were robbed of a team.

SHOWALTER: We were back, we were taking off for the first time in forever. We had moments that we had not had in forever. How we had pieced that team together, how the people fit, Don Mattingly would have been a shoo-in Hall of Famer if that season had been played. I don't want to be self-serving about this, but this affected a lot of people. It cost a lot of people their jobs. We came to camp the next year. We had the best team in the league the year before, and it took until August [1995] before we found our step again.

That's what it did. The passion our players took for that strike, what they were fighting for, I'm not sure that exists today. I'm not sure the game could withstand another strike. The next spring, with replacement players, was the worst part of my baseball career. It was awful.

When [Selig] said we were going to cancel the rest of the season ... I wish everyone today could see how that happened that day, and they would make sure there was no way that could possibly happen again. It sounds sinful, but you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot? I felt the same way when Bud said the season had been canceled. I thought to myself, "Oh my God, how can we do this?"

'I had no doubt that he would have hit .400 that season'

San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 when the season vanished. He never got a chance to become the first player to hit .400 since his baseball idol, Ted Williams, more than a half-century prior. Many years later, in retirement, Gwynn told me, without bitterness, "I was swinging so well. I think I would have hit .400."

TIM HYERS (Tony Gwynn's San Diego Padres teammate, 1994-95): I had no doubt that he would have hit .400 that season, there's no reason that he wouldn't have. Every day he came to the ballpark, he had his swing early in the day. We used to joke that if Tony actually made an out, we would say, "Well, let's get a bunch of guys on for the next time he comes up because he's going to get a hit for sure, there was no way he's making an out in two straight ABs." It was like clockwork. Left-handers, righties. Hard throwers, soft throwers. No matter who was pitching, Tony was going to be OK.

It would have been fun to watch the last two months of that season.

BRUCE BOCHY (Padres third base coach in 1994): I had a great view of Tony that year. It was unbelievable how consistently he put bat to ball. We were shocked when he didn't barrel the ball. There were times when he got fooled, he got out on his front foot, and just when the pitcher thought he had him, Tony was able to keep his hands back and still get the barrel to the ball. If they pitched him in, he would pull it. If they pitched him away, he would hit a bullet to left field. His hand-eye coordination was always great. That season, it was incredible. To be in that zone as long as Tony was, it was fun to watch. It was a privilege to watch.

Would he have hit .400? Oh, you know ... man, that's such an incredible feat. I don't know, but it was going to go to the wire. I don't know if he was going to do it, but he was not letting up. When people talked about him hitting .400, he accepted the pressure, and kept throwing out great at-bats. It would have gone to the last week. He had a legit shot. It would have taken a lot of luck. If you had taken the luck out of it, he would have done it.

BRAD AUSMUS (Gwynn's teammate, 1993-96): I still have vivid memories of that season. It honestly seemed like every time he made contact, it hit the barrel of the bat. On the rare occasions that he mishit it, it found a hole in the infield. One night, I was on second base, and I remember asking [Cincinnati Reds shortstop] Barry Larkin why it was that I would get out in front on a chop hit, it seemed they would snag it and throw me out. But with Tony, the ball always got by the infielder, by like six inches for a hit. I was kind of mad, I was jealous. I was happy because he was on my team. But I wanted those hits for me, too.

I asked Larkin, "Why does Tony always get those hits that bounce through the infield when everyone else seems to be out?" Lark said, "Tony's bat comes from behind his body and through the strike zone so quickly, infielders don't get that extra half step on the ball. Most infielders have the ability to read the body or the bat when it comes to the ball, but with Tony, it's so late, you can't do that."

I'll never forget they put it up on the scoreboard one night: from July 1, 1993, to July 1, 1994, he hit .401. It wasn't in one season, but it was over a full season. I don't know if Tony would have hit .400 in 1994, but I do remember thinking if Tony had played for Colorado, he would have hit .420. He was unbelievable that year. I've never seen anyone ever hit the ball as consistently hard as he did. Batting practice, it was line-to-line nightly. Nowadays, some hitters use bats as more of a battering ram. Tony used his bats more as a paintbrush.

Gwynn told me he used one bat for almost the entire 1994 season, he held it out for only a few games against left-handers such as the Expos' Jeff Fassero, who might run the ball in on his hands, and break his bat. After the strike ended that next spring training, Gwynn broke that bat during batting practice alone on a back field against Padres coach Rob Picciolo.

"When I broke that bat,'' Gwynn told me, "I almost started to cry."

And Picciolo told me, "So did I."

The Aftermath: 'I always call it, "The Great Strike of 1994"'

After the season was canceled, John Hollay, then 12, a Yankees fan and now a lobbyist for fresh fruits and vegetables on Capitol Hill, wrote this poem. Recently, his mom found it.

1-2-3 Strikes You're Out

The baseball strike, where will it end?
The owners and players are at a dead end.
They talked and they fought about the cap.
Now that it's set, they'll be taking a nap.
A nap from what, is that what you said?
A nap from playing while baseball is dead.

The length of the strike is 153,
The public is mad as the players can see.
So I ask you baseball, 'Is there a '95?'
Will the players be real, the games be live?
I do believe they have committed a crime
By destroying America's great pastime.

The strike of 1994 did not kill baseball -- the strike would end after 232 days, and a 144-game season was played in 1995 -- but it did immeasurable harm. Beyond what it did to the fan base in the short term, with dizzying drops in per-game attendance, it led, at least indirectly, to the escalation of significant steroid use, which stained an entire era. The strike started careers, but mostly, it ended careers: 57 players played their final major league game in August 1994, 19 played their final game on Aug. 11, 1994. Jim Lindeman, then 31, hit a home run in what would be his final game ever. Lloyd McClendon, then 35, had no idea Aug. 11 was going to be his last game.

GLAVINE: What it meant then was a death sentence for baseball. People were genuinely pissed that we went on strike.

I still run into people who tell me they swore off baseball but eventually came back. Others have told me that they swore off baseball and never came back. That was a small percentage of people, but I get it.

LLOYD McCLENDON (Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder, 1990-94): We were all totally shocked that it came to this. I was one of 150 guys, most of them major leaguers, who were in the camp in Homestead [Florida, in the spring of 1995]. The players' association set up those camps for guys without contracts, viable major league players. I had no intentions of retiring. I, like many of the guys there, felt I had plenty of career left in me. Every day at camp -- we called it boot camp -- names would be called about guys who were being signed.

I got a call from Cleveland to sign a major league contract, but they wanted me to cross the picket line. I couldn't do that. I signed a minor league deal with Cleveland, I played a month and a half in the minor leagues, and I thought, "I am not going back down this road again. I have paid my dues. And I am not going to take a job from a younger player."

That's not how I envisioned my career ending. I didn't think it would end so abruptly. But, the next year I was a hitting coach. Five years later, I was a manager. So, I was blessed. [Were those confusing, difficult, stressful times?] Yes. All those adjectives apply ... the clean adjectives.

"What it meant then was a death sentence for baseball. People were genuinely pissed that we went on strike. I still run into people who tell me they swore off baseball, but eventually came back. Others have told me that they swore off baseball, and never came back. That was a small percentage of people, but I get it."
Tom Glavine, then-Atlanta Braves pitcher

HAROLD REYNOLDS (with Colorado Rockies during spring training in 1995): The day before the [1995] season, [Rockies manager] Don Baylor called me in his office. I figured he was going to tell me I wasn't going to start. He told me that they couldn't find a way to keep me on the team. I was asked to go to [GM] Bob Gebhard's office. He released me. That was it. The end of my career. It never entered my mind in August 1994 that I would never play again. Never.

I look back at that whole time [with sadness], but never with disgust. I knew I could hold up physically. When I stopped playing, I intentionally got out of shape, so mentally I couldn't convince myself that I could still play. What happened with that strike is that baseball became a business. Bud Selig never knew it was going to come to that, but with that strike, players became numbers. With sabermetrics today, that's all they are today. Sabermetrics began with the strike.

The only positive of that whole experience is we learned that you can't replace major league players. I can watch a college football game or an NBA basketball game without all the best players, and I'm satisfied. But not in baseball. You can't replace the players.

FRED McGRIFF (Atlanta Braves first baseman in 1994, had 34 home runs at the time of the strike and would finish his career 10 years later with 493): I don't blame the strike [for not getting to 500 home runs, or into the Hall of Fame]. My last year, only a few home runs short, no team gave me an opportunity to continue my career. That was my bitter moment. And I don't blame the strike for bringing on the steroid era. From my standpoint, the steroid era came when we started allowing personal trainers into the clubhouse. That brought it to a whole new level.

SELIG: I had one sleepless night after another wondering about the damage to baseball ... 1995 was a tough year. Cal Ripken saved us on Sept. 6 [when he broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played]. The next four years were tough. Bringing the sport back was difficult. People were angry at everybody: the players, the owners, the commissioner, the union.

But as a devotee of history, who could have ever believed that we could have 25-28 years of labor peace? I would like to think that somehow, someway, as horrible and as heartbreaking as that was, that some good came from that time. When I left the game, we had revenues of 11-12 billion [dollars], unprecedented in the sport, and as much as they [the union] fought revenue sharing, without revenue sharing, you are nowhere today.

ORZA, on whether the strike, and its residue, was worth it: Oh sure. We did a study of how much money the players would otherwise have gotten paid, and what they did get paid, if we had taken the clubs' proposal. It was hundreds of millions of dollars. The clubs got labor peace, which they can't take credit for; the credit for labor peace since 1994 goes to us. We took the salary cap off the table, we forced it out of them, and beat it out of them. Selig talks about the game has had labor peace, but the guys taking credit for it are the wrong guys. It's no different than the Germans and the Japanese saying, "We gave you the United Nations. We haven't had a World War III, it's great." Yeah, but we have a United Nations because you lost World War II.

GLAVINE: It is a terrible analogy, but we had to lose the battle to win the war. And we won the war. Who would have guessed after that strike that we would have labor peace longer than any major sport? The pressure of going through it, and not wanting to go through it again, believe me, weighed heavily during the next negotiation. It was a big motivator to not let that happen again. We all knew that the game was bigger than the players who played it.

But looking back, the game is better off today because of it [the strike]. We have had labor peace. The game is thriving. And I don't think the line-in-the-sand thinking exists today.

ORZA, on whether players from that time often reflect on that strike, and regret it: It's the other way around, they talk about good old days. I always call it "The Great Strike of 1994." I have great sympathy for Tony's situation [Tony Clark, current executive director of the MLBPA]. It's a different player corps, it's a different era. There were no cellphones in 1994. Scott Sanderson set up a bank of regular landline phones calling guys from the conference room of the Doral Hotel. It's a different world now with social media. I don't know if Don and I and Lauren [Rich] and Steve [Fehr] and Michael [Weiner] could have pulled it off again. But I do know the legacy of the 1994 strike, so far, has been a positive one. It has [contributed] immeasurably to the growth of the game.

Free agency freed the owners as much as it freed the players. They never understood that. In the old days, I have the fourth-best shortstop in baseball. He gets injured. The only way to replace him, when there were 26 teams, presuming the 26 shortstops are the best 26, the only option is to get the 27th-best shortstop. I never get access to the first- or fifth-, the eighth-, the 11th-best shortstop. Free agency allows you do to that. A judicious use of free agency enables you to get players that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to get. And that makes you more competitive. To save free agency was very, very important. The 1994 strike allowed that. Free agency would have been dead without the 1994 strike. The proposal they made would have killed free agency. We saved them from themselves.

TONY CLARK (current MLBPA executive director, made his MLB debut with the Detroit Tigers during the strike-shortened 1995 season): Speaking from my vantage point as a young player at the time, we learned there is value to being committed to a cause. We learned that conviction and sacrifice is at root of all progress. We learned that fundamental fairness and equality is worth fighting for.

SELIG: I think about that whole period a lot. It was a crucial part of my commissionership. I got off to a very tough start. I got killed. But I understood, right from the start, that we were in the midst of an economic upheaval. The world was clearly changing. I knew that the next time period was going to be rocky, we had to do something about it. I knew I had a hell of a job ahead of me; I knew without revenue sharing, the sport wasn't going to survive. One owner told me recently: If not for what we did in the '90s, 10 to 12 teams would be out of business today. [Former sportswriter] Jerome Holtzman used to kid Marvin [Miller], he would say, "Marvin, you have to let these guys win once in a while." Marvin said, "They'll never win while I'm around." And we didn't. Don and Gene felt the same way.

SANTANGELO (now a Washington Nationals broadcaster, his stance during the strike saved his major league career): There was spring training for minor league players [in 1995], but we heard about replacement player games, and we were going to be made to cross the imaginary picket line. I finally decided that it was not a good idea for me to play when big leaguers were sitting at home for a cause. I just didn't think that getting a hit off a truck driver -- nothing against truck drivers -- in a replacement player game was going to show my manager that I could play in the big leagues. I just decided that I didn't want to be a part of it.

I went to a union meeting at a hotel that spring. Tom Glavine and [Giants veteran outfielder] Brett Butler were screaming at minor leaguers, telling us we shouldn't play. A bunch of minor leaguers told them, "If I don't play, they're going to release me." And they screamed back at us, "If you have confidence in your ability that you are good enough to play, then you'll play!" A bunch of millionaire players were telling poor kids from A-ball not to cross the line, and give up on their dream of playing in the big leagues. It was so messed up. At that point, I thought major leaguers were a bunch of jerks.

GLAVINE: We spent the winter meeting with players, sometimes regionally, to fill them in with what was going on. I don't really remember any meeting specifically, but we had to make sure that everyone knew that sticking together was the best plan. We needed to make sure the players understood that. Replacement players were designed to break us a union. And it could if you decided to cross.

"Much as was the case in '94, not to mention every bargaining round before or since, we have an opportunity to negotiate a fair and equitable deal ahead of the expiration of the current agreement. There are challenges every time interests are brought to the table -- the players and the PA, and those of the clubs and MLB. We are committed to ours, and they are committed to theirs ... and we have until December 2021 to work through them."
Tony Clark, current MLBPA executive director

SANTANGELO: That spring, at Lantana High School [in West Palm Beach], our GM, Kevin Malone, had all the minor league players come out to one of the fields at 8 a.m. He told us, "OK, I'm going to make it easy for you. You are all going to play in the replacement games. If any big league player has a problem with it, I'll take the heat, I made you play." He said, "Anyone who doesn't want to play can leave now." So, I put my equipment bag over my shoulder and walked out that day. There were 200 guys there; I was the only one who left.

I was sitting by myself in the clubhouse, thinking, "What did I just do? My career is over." Kevin came in and told me I'd made the wrong decision. I took a shower, I was going home. I was told that Felipe [Alou] wanted to talk to me. I thought he was going to tell me I had made the wrong decision also. He said, "I've always respected you, and I respect you even more today because you stood up for yourself. When the strike ends, I am going to call you up when I can. I am a man of my word."

I went home. But the Expos wanted me back. I played for Ottawa in 1995. Felipe called me up Aug. 2, 1995. I got to the clubhouse at 12:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. [Expos GM] Bill Stoneman said to me, "Don't you think you're a little early to get here?" I told him, "I've waited my whole life for this. There is no such thing as being too early." Felipe put me in the lineup that night. I went 2-for-3. I played seven years in the big leagues. This is how I got here. If I hadn't taken a stand, I wouldn't have played in the big leagues, I wouldn't be a broadcaster. I wouldn't be talking to you.

VOGT: Without baseball, we played more. We pretended to be the Giants even more than we normally did. It was a very tough time as kids, but it didn't deter our love of baseball. The next spring, we started playing Little League, there was no spring training for the big leaguers, and we would look at each other and say, "How can we be playing, and the players in the major leagues are not playing?" That was a long eight months waiting that out. When April came, that was a big void. That spring, something was missing in our lives.

'The game will always survive'

Will history repeat itself? Attendance in 2019 is down. Broadcast ratings are down. Popularity of the game is down. And the labor peace that has existed for nearly 20 years is far from peaceful, with rules changes, pace-of-play issues and a remarkable offseason in which many veteran players waited months for lower-than-expected offers.

VOGT, on what he would tell a kid if a strike were to happen again: I would tell the 10-year-old me that the owners and the players are doing everything they can to put the best product on the field. And you have to trust what they are doing. They are just trying to make the game the best it can be. And the game will always survive.

ORZA: The owners did something, and the union will admit to this: We agreed that this [luxury] tax that we agree to cannot act as a salary cap. If it does that, then we were on strike for no reason whatsoever. There are always going to be teams that pay the tax. If there aren't, we have a problem on our hands. I think that the union now realizes that tax has become a salary cap, particularly with thresholds as low as they are. The game is better off in some respects, but from a labor lawyer's perspective, this next labor agreement is, in some respects, the most important since the '94 strike, because it's going to leave its mark on how successful it turns out, over the long haul, how successful '94-'95 was. If they allow a combination of attacks and low thresholds to operate as a salary cap, they got unwittingly, through the back door, a salary cap -- a salary cap by a different name.

CLARK: Much as was the case in '94, not to mention every bargaining round before or since, we have an opportunity to negotiate a fair and equitable deal ahead of the expiration of the current agreement. There are challenges every time interests are brought to the table -- the players and the PA, and those of the clubs and MLB. We are committed to ours, and they are committed to theirs ... and we have until December 2021 to work through them.