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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The players who crossed the picket line in 1995

When I was a kid (I’m 31 now), the term “replacement player” had a totally different meaning than it does now. To me, back then, it meant a fill-in player in a video game meant to represent somebody else. There were a handful of stand-ins in video games because certain players crossed the picket line in spring training 1995 after the work stoppage. Because the strikebreakers were rightfully not welcome in the union, their names and likenesses could not be used in MLBPA licensed products, including video games. As a result, game developers used fake names and likenesses for those players.

As Craig pointed out to me in a brief chat we had while brainstorming our strike anniversary ideas, in High Heat Major League Baseball 1999, Braves reliever Kerry Lightenberg was dubbed “Terry Lyte.” Other code names included “Ron Mayday” (Ron Mahay), and “Shawn Spengler” (Shane Spencer).

The game I religiously played back in the day was MVP Baseball 2005. In that game, Barry Bonds — who was not part of the MLBPA for reasons unrelated to the work stoppage — went undercover as “Jon Dowd.” Lightenberg was dubbed “Scott Venema.” Mahay was “Neale Genereaux,” and Spencer was “Larry Reed.” Among other notables, Cory Lidle was “Alan Hughes,” Lou Merloni was “Paul Cruz,” and Damian Miller was “Roger Chamberlain.” I remember people being so invested in making the game as accurate and up-to-date as possible that they would go into the game’s files and edit them to make, for example, Cory Lidle actually look like Cory Lidle with his actual name.

Baseball scabs — a “scab” is a pejorative term for someone who crosses a picket line — weren’t just barred from video games. Players who happened to find themselves on playoff teams were not allowed to have their names or likenesses used on commemorative merchandise. Those players included Spencer and Miller as well as Brendan Donnelly and Kevin Millar.

A reminder of an aspect of the strike that people aren’t likely to commemorate.

QLE Posted: August 13, 2019 at 04:39 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: 1994 strike, replacement players, scabs

 

 

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