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On April 1, 1972, the first Major League Baseball players’ strike began, the first collective players’ strike in U.S. professional baseball history.

It lasted twelve days, ending on April 13. But in that time, 86 games were canceled, leaving the season in flux.

What Caused The MLB Strike?

For starters, the team owners did not listen to the complaints of players.

History.com explains, “The cause of baseball’s first strike was the expiration of the league’s three-year pension agreement. The Major League Baseball Players Association, led by seasoned union negotiator Marvin Miller, had made modest requests to increase benefits. However, the owners balked at the proposals, and never took the players’ threat to strike seriously.”

“In his book, A Whole Different Ballgame, Miller wrote: ‘The last thing I expected in 1972 was a strike. The owners had decided to bring the Players Association’s progress to a halt either by provoking a strike, which they felt confident of winning, or by forcing the players to back down and accept their unreasonable position in the negotiations,” History noted.

The story continued:

As it turned out, the players were prepared to take control of their own destiny. In fact, the players voted 663-10 in favor of authorizing their executive committee to call a strike. MLBPA general counsel Dick Moss advised the players that it was not the right time to strike because they had yet to be paid that season and didn’t have a strike fund. But the players stood their ground.

Oakland A’s star Reggie Jackson yelled at a meeting with Miller and Moss: “Goddammit, there are just times when you’ve got to stand up for your rights!” Although the players were not paid for the 12 days of the strike, their effort ultimately was a success. Owners agreed to a $500,000 increase in the pension fund and to allow salary arbitration.

Baseball Strike Of 1994

The last MLB baseball strike happened in 1994 and ’95, lasting much longer.

NBC News reported, “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 canceled along with the playoffs and World Series.”

“The 1994-95 Major League Baseball Strike had begun.”

At 232 days, that strike still holds the record for the longest stoppage of the sport at the pro level in history.

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