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The last replacement player is released

May 13, 2011, 3:34 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

The Diamondbacks have released reliever Ron Mahay after ten pretty awful outings in the minors.  Not a notable move in and of itself. But, on the assumption that Mahay does not catch on anywhere else, this will mark the end of the career of the last replacement player from the 1994-95 strike.

At least I think so.  The last time I researched this semi-thoroughly was early last year, and then we had Brendan Donnelly, Matt Herges, Mahay, Jamie Walker and Kevin Millar all trying to continue playing.  A couple of those guys spent some time on rosters in 2010, but none this year according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The replacement player affair was a strange chapter in baseball history. The gambit to suit up the replacements was announced in January of 1995. It began to fizzle terribly in spring training as managers — most notably Sparky Anderson — and one entire organization — the Orioles, whose owner had a strong pro-union legal career — refused to cooperate.  The strike itself was settled on April 2nd.  Baseball, with real players, began after a short delay to the season.

While most replacement players were never heard from again, a handful of them like Mahay fought their way back to the majors on the merits. They were never welcomed back officially — union membership and benefits were denied them — but some of them had distinguished baseball careers.

I’m a union supporter and I thus can’t say that I agree with what they did on a philosophical basis, but they were young and hungry and were being manipulated by the owners in the worst way.  They probably felt that, had they not crossed the picket line, they’d never get a chance in the game.  A game that, as it is, weeds out enough people.  It’s one of those situations that you can’t really condone, but you can certainly understand.

Hasta la vista, replacement players.  May you have ironic fun playing video games with pseudonymed likenesses of yourselves in your retirement.

  1. catsmeat - May 13, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Ron Mahay?

  2. clydeserra - May 13, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    I am with you Craig. I feel bad for those guys who were, for the most part organizational players with no real shot. But still it was a mistake to cross the picket line.

    Unfortunatly the players association has no leg to stand on refusing them benefits now as they totally blew off the Umpire labor strife the next year.

  3. Joe - May 13, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    IIRC, he was an outfielder in the replacement-player days, but his entire MLB career has been as a pitcher. So does he REALLY count as a replacement player?

  4. rje49 - May 13, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    I distinctly remember the Orioles saying they won’t play with replacement players, and I knew the reason why. Quite simply, if the Baltimore Orioles played an official major league game without Cal Ripkin in the line-up, his streak would be over. The fact that he was “on strike” would make no difference.

  5. jwbiii - May 13, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    I saw that Ron Mahay and Jon Huber were released and Todd Wellemeyer retired on the same day. I assume that they had contract provisions that specified that they had to be promoted within 30 after the MiLB season began. I did not realize that Mahay was the last of replacement players/scabs.

    I’m afraid the Barry Bonds/Joe Young thing was an homage to this. A choice in poor taste at best, at worst. . .

  6. missthemexpos - May 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    The 94 Expo’s were kicking some serious butt when the strike started, alas we will never know if they would have been the champs.

    • koufaxmitzvah - May 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      I miss the Expos, too, and I’ve got the elb cap to prove it. As much as I appreciate what unions do for America, I feel the MLB union and Commissioner’s office really screwed the fans over in 1995, and subsequently lost all Montreal support. Aside from shutting down the Expos amazing season prematurely and not having a World Series, we missed out on a potential .400 season by Tony Gwynn and a 61+ home run season by some San Fran third baseman.

      Of the replacement player group, Matt Herges was on my team. He earned this fan’s respect by pitching well when called upon, and I was happy to follow his career (aside from his time in San Fran).

      I still have my season ending series Dodgers-Giants tickets from that season. Reserve section, 4 rows up the 1st baseline, $8.

      That was a great strike, huh?

      • skerney - May 13, 2011 at 6:36 PM

        Is the stub from one of the games the Giants won, or from the game that Dusty Baker started Salomon Torres instead of one of his two 20 game winners?

  7. dparker713 - May 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    I fail to see why crossing the picket line would be either a philospohical or a moral question. Unions and labor laws are designed to give economically disadvantaged people choices. Seems rather odd to believe that someone like Mahay should not make the best choice for his career out of some sense of loyalty to a group that he did not or may never belong. He made a decision that he believed was the best for his career, as all of the members of the union were doing. Afterall, its not like the union was on strike to improve the plight of minor leaguers.

  8. skerney - May 13, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Being a baseball fan, I always felt for the replacement players. Being a union man, I feel you cross the line and you pay a price.

  9. havlicekstoletheball - May 14, 2011 at 6:25 AM

    Calacaterra, you manage to fit in your pro-union stance and bash replacement players, as the major leaguers couldn’t bear playing for only $80,000 a GAME, with huge pensions and top-flight medical care for life.

    You failed to mention that Mahay broke into the majors as an outfielder, with the Red Sox. I was at Fenway in 95 when he hit a home run. He later pitched for Boston, as well.

  10. micker716 - May 15, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    Scab!

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