It was on the front page on April 1, 1972, because it was still a novelty, in a way. Baseball had never suffered a regular season work stoppage before. No sport had. But at 12:01 a.m., almost 50 years ago, baseball players announced they were going on strike. And later in the day, when they failed to show up for one of the 12 exhibition games scheduled for Florida and Arizona, it was official.
“BASEBALL OUT!shouted the Post’s front page.
“Surprise and anger greet baseball shutdownshouted the back.
At that time, people at both ends of the great divide had looser lips and rawer feelings.
“This is not a strike for money,” Yankees player rep Jack Aker said that morning in St. Petersburg, Fla., echoing a common theme the players embraced. for as long as there has been a grudge at work. “This is simply an attempt by the owners to break the [union].”
Tigers general manager Jim Campbell didn’t see it that way.
“I think players are pretty damn greedy,” he said, echoing a common theme owners have embraced for as long as there’s been labor rancor. “This game was pretty good for these guys, and I think baseball deserves better.”
Said August Bush of the Cardinals: “I wouldn’t give the players a penny more.”
And Charlie O. Finley of the A’s: “The players just shot the goose.
And Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had this to say:
“Obviously the losers of the strike are the sports fans of America,” he said, echoing a common theme the commissioners have embraced for as long as there has been rancor. at work.
But this was new ground. So while the players offered a united front, they were also open with their concern about an uncertain future. Danny Cater, who a week earlier had been traded by the Yankees to the Red Sox in what became an all-time steal for the Yankees, said simply, “I feel sick.”
Fellow Red Sox player Ken Tatum expanded the thought: “You don’t know what to expect without a paycheck and you have a family. Everyone thinks we all make $30,000 or $40,000 a year – and we don’t.
(Pause here for acknowledgment of simpler and simpler days)
In New York, the full impact of the strike was almost immediately drowned out because the following day, April 2, Easter Sunday, Mets manager Gil Hodges suffered a fatal heart attack after playing a round of golf with his coaching team. This sad news and subsequent elevation of Yogi Berra to Director obscured the very real fact that no one really knew how collective bargaining like this was supposed to unfold.
The strike lasted 13 days. It has been said that some weaker franchises may not be able to survive an extended shutdown. There were rumors that players were at their wit’s end, unsure when their next payday might be. They settled. They agreed to a shortened season. There were grudges all around, the residue of which still lingers, on both sides.
In The Post, on what would have been Opening Day 1972, columnist Larry Merchant toured half a dozen places where baseball was actually played. In 1972 you could find that – I’m not sure you can in 2022. But Merchant ended his column in a way that could easily apply 50 years later. I will therefore borrow it to end this column:
“Team owners and players playing the game for money are not the essence of the game. Whether either side or neither side is right in the rhubarb, baseball will continue “There’s no point in being dyspeptic about baseball batting. Look around. The season is on.”
After staying up late to watch the Knicks lose to a 30-foot bank shot at the buzzer on Friday night, I think it’s pretty clear that they just aren’t allowed to have nice things anymore.
It’s been, impossible, now six years since we lost Shannon Forde, who in 22 years in the Mets’ public relations office managed to have an equal impact on players, media, owners, front office workers, managers and coaches. She was only 44 when she died, but her spirit lives on in so many who knew her.
I’ll give the Bonnies a chance next week at the Atlantic 10 tournament, in case you were wondering.
Which brings us to Kyle Neptune, who has done an outstanding job at Fordham this year and should be there in conversation with Davidson’s Bob McKillop for A-10 Coach of the Year. He did a good job.
Return to Vac
Bruce Welsh: I don’t understand the crazy money going to Tony Romo and now Troy Aikman. The next time I watch a game because of who announces it, it will be the first. Now, on the other hand, there are a lot of advertisers that I would like to disable. I just don’t understand.
VAC: I’m old enough to remember when NBC aired a Jets-Dolphins game without announcers around 1980 or so. I don’t remember the world ending that day.
Matthew Frank: Ex-Nets great Micheal Ray Richardson had the famous quote, “The ship is sinking.” That certainly seems to be the case for the 2021-22 Nets. I know the script as a longtime Nets fan! “A tree is dying in Brooklyn,” Kevin Durant will ask. And we are heading again to the land of the insignificant.
VAC: It’s actually heartwarming to see that Nets fans can experience the same terrors of waiting as Jets and Mets fans.
@nyse575: Baseball fans should boycott the first series after it officially returns.
@MikeVacc: It is an excellent idea. But baseball fans love baseball. Many of them cannot help themselves.
Damien Begley: For three months, the owners and the players failed to reach an agreement? To paraphrase the great Jimmy Breslin: “MLB could learn something from the Mafia. Nobody leaves the table until the problem is solved.
VAC: And that their first child is a male child.
New York Post