May 13, 2011, 3:34 PM EDT
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.
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