40th anniversary: The first strike ends

Forty years ago today, a bit of baseball history was made. Or perhaps it would be better to say that 40 years ago today a key bit of baseball history came to an end.

On April 13, 2012, Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association came to an agreement, ending the first labor strike in the history of big league ball.

It had not been an especially long strike, lasting a little under two weeks. It cost teams only a small number of games, but it was historic nonetheless. It proved that the players really were organized behind labor honcho Marvin Miller and that they were determined to improve their standing in the game. At a certain level, it’s all talk until it becomes a labor strike. Then it becomes actual action. The players were willing to take action.

More than that, taking action worked for them, as they won the strike. The strike didn’t eliminate the main point of contention between the players and owners—the reserve clause. That clause, which allowed teams to keep their players under their control for all eternity, had not been the issue. That would last until overturned by a baseball arbitrator a few years later.

No, but there were very real gains for the players in this strike. They won more money for their pension fund. A minimum salary was instituted. More originally, veteran players could veto a trade if they didn’t like it. This applied only to those who had been in the league 10 years, and had spent the last five with the same team. The 10/5 clause as its still known, would be first invoked the next offseason.

Cubs third baseman Ron Santo would be one of the first (maybe the first) player to use it to kill a proposed deal that would’ve sent him to the Angels. Since Santo first used the clause, some writers nicknamed it the “Santo Clause.” Oh, those wacky writers.

Those were all nice gains, but the big change was the owners agreeing to salary arbitration. This would help fuel salary growth by ensuring that salaries for all players would be pegged on salaries of the best players.

While short-lived, the strike did knock out some games. Most teams lost six to eight, with nine being the most. The owners opted not to reschedule the games. After all, if they did reschedule them, they’d have to pay the players. If the games were cancelled, the players wouldn’t get paid.

This had a couple interesting results. Most notably, it determined the AL East division race. The Tigers topped the Red Sox by a half-game—because they played one more game. Detroit went 86-70 and Boston 85-70. Them’s the breaks.

It’s also interesting to figure how some pitchers might have done if there was a full season. That was a season of gaudy pitching stats—so imagine how much gaudier they could’ve been. Steve Carlton was 27-10 with 346.1 innings pitched. Could he have posted 28 or 29 wins and 350-360 innings? He was on pace for it. Gaylord Perry threw nearly as many innings—342.2.

They all pale before Wilbur Wood. For a team that played 154 games, Wood started 49 times (!), posted a 24-17 record, and threw—are you ready?—376.2 innings. Yeah, that’s a lot. And it was in a reduced season, too. If he can squeeze in three starts in those eight games (not impossible given the way he pitched), he has a chance for 400 innings pitched.

Regardless, the strike happened, and it ended exactly 40 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the lists.


1,000 days since the Marlins break ground for their new ballpark.

2,000 days since the Tigers top the Cardinals 3-1 in Game Two of the World Series. The big story is people wondering what was that substance on Kenny Rogers’ pitching hand.

4,000 days since Ramon Martinez plays his last game.

4,000 days since perhaps the best game of Jeff Kent’s career. He goes 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run. He scores a run and drives in seven. Oh, and he also draws a walk.

5,000 days since Atlanta signs free agent Norm Charlton.

5,000 days since Craig Biggio takes the day off, ending his consecutive games streak at 494 in a row.

5,000 days since Kevin Brown wins his 11th consecutive game, his best ever streak. His line in this time: 15 G, 14 GS, 106.2 IP, 102 H, 32 R, 31 ER, 20 BB, 121 K, and 2.62 ERA.


1866 Herman Long, one of the best defensive players of his day, is born.

1875 Kid Elberfeld, fiery shortstop of the Deadball Era, is born.

1885 Vean Gregg, talented pitcher who blew his arm out, is born.

1889 Claude Hendrix, briefly a star pitcher who was later caught up in gambling scandals, is born.

1902 Ben Cantwell, pitcher who won 20 with the 1933 Braves and then went 4-25 with them in 1935, is born.

1906 Hugh Duffy plays in his last big league game.

1911 Cincinnati releases veteran starting pitcher Jesse Tannehill.

1912 Jack Fournier, slugging first baseman, makes his big league debut.

1914 The Federal League makes its debut. It doesn’t take.

1916 Babe Adams has a near no-hitter. It’s a one-hitter in which the only hit is a ball that squirts out of an infielder’s glove. As it happens, he’ll win only two games all year long.

1921 On Opening Day, Babe Ruth enjoys his only 5-for-5 game ever. He has two doubles and three singles.

1921 Riggs Stephenson makes his big league debut.

1922 Dazzy Vance, age 31, makes his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He loses to Phil Douglass for the Giants. As it happens, when Vance started one game in the majors seven years earlier, the opposing pitcher was that very same Douglass—and Vance lost that one, too.

1925 Stuffy McInnis is released by the Braves.

1926 Connie Mack loses his 2,000th game: 1,987-2,000 for his career at this moment.

1926 Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig pull off a double steal.

1926 Three of Hall of Famers debut today. On the playing end, Pittsburgh’s Paul Waner, and Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees both appear for the first time. In the dugout, Joe McCarthy manages his first big league game.

1926 Walter Johnson wins his final 1-0 complete game shutout, a 15-inning duel over Eddie Rommel of the A’s on Opening Day.

1933 Bill Dietrich, pitcher, makes his big league debut.

1933 Sam West of the Browns gets six hits in a game. It’s an 11-inning game.

1946 Eddie Klepp, a white pitcher playing for the Negro Leagues’ Cleveland Buckeyes, is barred from the field in Birmingham, Ala..

1953 A new era dawns as the Braves play their first game as a Milwaukee franchise. They beat the Reds in Cincinnati, 2-0. It’s the first franchise relocation in a half-century. Within 10 years, five more franchises will move. Bill Bruton makes his big league debut in that game for Milwaukee.

1954 One of the greatest players in history makes his big league debut. It’s Hank Aaron He goes 0-for-5 and hits into an inning-ending double play in his first trip to the plate. Cincinnati wins, 9-8.

That Braves-Reds game is the first time in major league history in which the teams don’t leave their gloves on the field after the third out. Also, rookie Reds manager Birdie Tebbetts manages his first big league game. Also, it’s an overflow crowd, causing extra seats to go up and leading to 13 doubles—12 of which are ground rule doubles.

1954 Aside from Hank Aaron, many other players make their debuts, including, Bill Skowron, Bob Skinner, Frank Bolling, Vic Power and Wally Moon.

1954 Major league baseball finally returns to Baltimore as the Orioles lose their first game to the Tigers.

1954 Hall of Fame umpire Nestor Chylak makes his debut.

1954 The Pirates open at home for the first time in 61 years. Don’t ask me what caused that because I don’t know.

1954 Hall of Fame skipper Walter Alston manages his first game. His debut is spoiled by Willie Mays, who hits a two-run homer for a Giants win. It’s Mays’ return to the bigs after his stint in the Army. Calling the game in the booth are Vin Scully and Andre Baruch, who replace Red Barber as the main voices of the Dodgers.

1955 Mickey Mantle is hit by a pitch for the first time in his career. Mind you, he was a rookie four years earlier. He’ll be plunked twice more later this month.

1955 Washington suffers the worst Opening Day blowout ever, losing 19-1 to the New York Yankees.

1962 Nellie Fox legs out his 100th career triple.

1962 The Mets play their home opener, and 12,447 see them lose 4-3 to Pittsburgh at the old Polo Grounds.

1962 Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey gets his first plate assignment and sees Billy Pierce and the Giants beat the Reds.

1962 Stan Musial sets anNL record by scoring his 1,869th run.

1963 Pete Rose gets his first big league his in his 12th at-bat. It’s a triple off Bob Friend of the Pirates.

1964 Cincinnati releases Ryne Duren, whom the Phillies sign that same day.

1965 Davey Johnson makes his big league debut.

1967 Tom Seaver makes his big league debut against the Pirates.

1968 Ron Santo hits his 200th career home run.

1968 Jim Perry has a terrific day, pitching a complete game shutout and belting a home run. His Twins smack the Yankees, 6-0.

1968 Sal Bando hits his first career home run.

1970 The A’s use gold colored bases in their home opener. The Rules Committee will subsequently ban them.

1970 Cincinnati releases veteran pitcher Camilo Pascual, whom the Dodgers sign that same day.

1971 On Opening Day in Montreal, fans stand on snow mounds outside Jarry Park and watch for free.

1975 Al Oliver gets his 1,000th career hit.

1975 Gaylord Perry wins his 200th career game. His record at this point is: 200-157.

1975 Houston retires the number pf Don Wilson, who died in the offseason in an auto accident. (He drove home, passed out behind the wheel of his car with the engine running and garage door closed. He dies, a child of his dies, and another relative or two has to go to the hospital. No, it wasn’t very pleasant).

1975 Brooks Robinson scores four runs in a game for the only time in his career.

1976 The Cubs purchase veteran catcher Randy Hundley from the Padres.

1977 Original THT writer Larry Mahnken is born.

1977 Joe Torre’s 252nd and final career home run is his first pinch-hit homer in over a decade.

1978 Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris reunite in Yankee Stadium to raise the 1977 championship banner. It’s the first time in over a decade they’ve been together. It’s also Reggie Candy Bar Day at the Stadium. When he belts a three-run homer, fans litter the field with his treat.

1980 AL umpire Ted Hendry works the full game with a split in the rear end of his pants and underwear.

1980 Pitcher Dan Quisenberry and catcher Jamie Quirk of the Royals combine for baseball’s first all-Q battery.

1980 In the first Rotisserie auction, Mike Schmidt becomes the first player taken, at $26.

1981 Steve Carlton wins his 250th game. His record at this point: 250-169.

1981 A labor strike at a factory making Louisville Slugger bats begins, with 330 workers walking off.

1982 Ozzie Smith smacks his first home run since Sept. 7, 1978.

1983 Pete Rose becomes the fourth person to get 700 career doubles.

1983 Bo Diaz hits a walk-off grand slam for a 10-9 Phillies win over the Yankees. His total WPA on the day is 1.030, which is the best known WPA by any Phillies batter. He also had a walk, a single, and a double.

1984 Pete Rose gets his 4,000th career hit.

1984 St. Louis retires No. 85 for longtime owner August Busch Jr.

1985 Rollie Fingers notches his 217th save, setting an AL record held by Sparky Lyle.

1987 The Padres hit back-to-back-to-back homers to lead off the first on their Opening Day. Marvell Wynne, Tony Gwynn, and John Kruk do it versus San Francisco.

1988 Rick Honeycutt commits four balks in four innings. He’s the second AL pitcher to do it in two days.

1988 Jose Canseco becomes the first person to hit a ball to the second deck façade at Seattle’s Kingdome.

1988 Will Clark has his most clutch homer, according to WPA. He hits a walk-off homer with two outs and none on in the 11th for a 0.471 WPA.

1991 Dave Winfield hits three homers in one game, plus a double and a single. He sets or ties personal bests in homers, total bases (15), extra base hits (four), runs scored (four), and RBIs (six).

1991 Mike Scott appears in his last baseball game.

1991 Texas Rangers sign free agent Brian Downing, ending his lengthy tenure in California.

1993 The A’s pitchers toss 263 pitches in a 20-4 loss to the Tigers, which is the most known by a team in a non-extra inning game.

1993 Lee Smith becomes all-time save leader when he records his 358th career save. The previously leader? Jeff Reardon. He didn’t lead for long, but he did lead for a bit.

1995 Detroit trades Tony Phillips to the Angels.

1998 Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 300th career home run. It’s only been 23 months since No. 200 for him.

1998 Esteban Yan has the best WPA stint by a relief pitcher in Tampa Bay history. He tosses five perfect innings for a 0.757 WPA. He gets the victory in a 13-12 triumph over the Twins that went 14 innings. It was only the 11th game in franchise history for the Devil Rays.

1998 Lee Stevens of Texas this three homers in one game.

1999 Ivan Rodriguez nails nine RBIs in one game by going 4-for-5 with a pair of homers—including his first career slam. It’s the most RBIs by a catcher since Smoky Burgess also drove in nine on July 29, 1955.

1999 Houston steals nine bases in one game.

2000 Frenchy Bordagaray dies.

2000 Tampa purchases Dwight Gooden from Houston.

2001 Manny Ramirez enjoys his best game, according to WPA. He goes 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs for a 0.794 WPA as the Red Sox top the Yankees, 3-2. Yes, he has all the team’s RBIs.

2002 Jason Isringhausen of St. Louis, strikes out the side on nine pitches in the ninth versus Houston.

2004 Barry Bonds passes Willie Mays with his 661st home run.

2005 Mike Hargrove wins his 1,000th game from the dugout. His record: 1,000-967.

2005 Albert Pujols has his worst game ever according to WPA: -0.542. He’s 1-for-5 with a game-ending GIDP. The Cardinals lose to the Reds, 6-5.

2007 Houston’s Carlos Lee gets three homers in one game.

2007 Roy Halladay lasts 10 innings for Toronto, a rare feat in the 21st century.

2008 Tom Glavine loses his 200th decision.

2008 Kenny Rogers suffers his seventh straight loss. His line in that span: 11 GS, 60.1 IP, 72 H, 45 R, 40 ER, 29 BB, 33 K, and a 5.97 ERA.

2009 Harry Kalas, longtime voice of the Phillies and NFL Films, dies.

2009 The incredibly unlikely happens for the White Sox. Not only do Sox teammates Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye both join the 300 home run club in the same game, but they do it in consecutive at-bats.

2009 Former baseball wunderkind Mark Fidrych dies in an accident while fixing his truck.

2009 CitiField in New York City makes his big league debut.

2009 Orlando Hudson hits for the cycle.

2010 Florida’s Jorge Cantu becomes the first player in 89 years to get an RBI in each of his team’s first eight games.

2011 Barry Bonds is found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice.

2011 Carlos Delgado announces his retirement. He’d been out for 23 months with a bad hip.

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11 years ago

1954, Pirates opening day road streak.  Just a guess, but wasn’t the season’s first game almost always in Cinci, as some sort of recognition of the 1869 team as the first professional team?  If the Pirates were usually their opponents then that might be our explanation.

11 years ago

2nd paragraph – you wrote 2012.  Pretty sure you meant 1972. smile

Chris J.
11 years ago

David – Hmmm, that would make more sense.  Thanks for the catch.