You see the cancellation of the 1994 season and postseason and the beginning of the 1995 baseball season was something that ripped the heart out of baseball fans. Fans, analysts and writers alike pointed to the "greediness" of the athletes who "wanted more money." Defenders of the players and the association will say it was the final battle to abolish the remnants of the reserve clause and the final answer to the cheap owners collusion with each other to decide how much money and to which team players would be able to go to. It was also a pipe dream for the owners to end free agency and to once again gain control over their players- to treat them like property.
While thinking of results of the 1994-1995 baseball players' strike, we can go in a number of directions. While Professional Football's viewership was on the rise by 1994 and the Super Bowl was already on its way to becoming a National Holiday, a case can be made that the popularity of the NFL grew the most as a result of the baseball players' strike. Because more fans felt betrayed, they began to look for different outlets and since then, the NFL has become the most watched sport in the United States of America.
Some may think that the game of baseball was "saved" because of the 1998 Home Run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I continue to admit that to me, it was one of the most exciting events I have had the chance to follow in sports. I know most refuse to acknowledge how enjoyable it was at the time, but if you deny it now- you are lying to yourselves. At the time, the chase brought fans back to the stadium- attendance started to rise again. The amount of fans listening to the games on the radio and watching on TV once again grew.
Though fans were back in the stands, the game, unfortunately, was not saved. In fact, the results of the chase itself led to the single season home run record being broken and passed by both McGwire and Sosa. From the years of 1998-2001, the longtime record for home runs in a single season which was held by Roger Maris was surpassed SIX times! (3 by Sosa, twice by McGwire and once by the current single season home run hitter, Barry Bonds) We began to identify this time as the steroids era.
Because of the need to increase lost attendance due to the strike, players either continued to used steroids or in some cases, started to use steroids and other PEDs. This resulted in an extreme amount of bitterness from the general public and their "sacred" records. Because of this, the Baseball Writers Association of America has attempted to blackball all those associated with the use of PEDs and even some that just so happened to be playing at the time when there were other known users.
This has resulted in many of the best to play in the most recent era to be barred from the Hall of Fame. Baseball is the only professional sport to have the equivalent of its all time hits leader, all time home run and single season home run champion and the pitcher with the most Cy Young Awards not allowed to be enshrined with the best to ever play the game. Perhaps if there was no strike, a lot of this may have never happened. And if it did, the players may have not abused the drugs as badly as they did. Perhaps Ken Caminiti may still be alive today.
A couple of years ago, I have a former OF for the Montreal Expos named Nikco Riesgo on my
If a minor league contract to a player would likely allow for them to live paycheck to paycheck, then why was it such a crime for a player like this to cross the picket line? The strike was for the actual MLB players, not the minor leaguers. It is clear that the MLBPA had either no interest or completely forgot about the thousands of minor league players being barred from work when they were making table scraps to begin with.
The bottom line is the fact that there were 262 players with ties to professional baseball who crossed the picket lines during the strike which started the 1995 season. Most did it because they needed the money. And because of this, some once again got a chance to return to the big leagues.
In 1987, the Chicago White Sox signed a RHP named Ramon Garcia. Garcia would move up the Sox chain making his big league debut on May 31, 1991. Garcia would appear in 16 games, making 15 starts and go 4-4 with a 5.40 ERA. He would fail to make the White Sox in 1992, instead spending the season pitching for AAA Vancouver (9-11, 3.71 ERA in 28 starts). After making 7 starts for AAA Nashville in 1993, Garcia would hurt his arm and missed the rest of the season. After the season, he became a minor league free agent and did not sign a contract for the 1994 season.
The strike came and any hopes of Garcia making a return to professional baseball seemed shot. While he was rehabbing, he did not receive a call from a team willing to take a look at him. The same thing for the 1994 off season. Spring training comes in 1995 and there is a need for replacement players. Commissioner Selig had already announced the season would start with real players or replacement players. Ramon Garcia signed on to be one of those 262 replacement players with ties to Major League Baseball. After the players and owners came to an agreement, players like Garcia and Riesgo were vilified. In fact, Riesgo would only play Independent League Baseball again.
On February 11, 1996 Garcia signed a minor league contract with the Expos. He went to spring training, but did not make the team. On April 3rd, the day he was released, he signed on with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Venezuelan native started out in the bullpen for the AAA New Orleans Zephers and after 6 relief appearances- was called up to the big leagues making his season debut on May 1. He would remain on the big club pitching in relief through the beginning of August when he was sent back down to New Orleans to pitch as a starter. Overall, Garcia went 2-1, 1.88 in 11 games, 5 starts in AAA. He was a September callup and made 2 starts along with three long relief appearances of 3 2/3 innings or more. For the season, Garcia was 4-4, 6.66 in 37 games, 2 starts.
Expecting to have Garcia back in the fold for the 1997 season, the Brewers left him off the 40 man roster and exposed him for the Rule 5 Draft. Surprisingly, he was selected by the Astros in the MLB phase. However, like in all cases of the Rule 5 Draft, the player had to spend the entire next season on the big league roster or be offered back to their previous team. New manager Larry Dierker found a role for Garcia as a swingman- one in which Garcia would respond well to. Garcia would appear in a career high 42 games, making 20 starts, going 9-9, 3.67 for the Astros in 1997. On September 3, 1997, Garcia would pitch the only compete game shutout of his career, blanking his former team, the Brewers. In his last 7 starts of the season, Garcia went 4-3 with a 2.40 ERA, giving up just 12 runs in 45 innings pitched.
Based off the way he finished the 1997 season, it seemed like a lock that Garcia would be back with the Astros in 1998. According to baseballreference.com, he received $240,000 from the Astros in 1998. I would like to see if he pitched in spring training that season, but MLB.com does not have spring training stats of 1998 available. The bottom line is that Garcia never pitched in another professional baseball game again. Did he get hurt, possibly. Maybe somebody can enlighten me.