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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 1994 strike, replacement players, scabs

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   1. dirk Posted: August 13, 2019 at 08:23 AM (#5870860)
i feel bad for bill baer, he's still holding a grudge for something that happened when he was 7.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 08:50 AM (#5870870)
IIRC, Rick Reed had a sick mom and needed the money badly.
   3. The_Ex Posted: August 13, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5870874)
I clicked on the link without looking at what site it was. As I read the article I thought, this must be a union site of some sort. Then I looked...NBC Sports.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 13, 2019 at 09:14 AM (#5870875)
Correct me if I’m remembering this wrong, but I think Bonds withdrew from the union because he could make more money licensing his right of publicity by himself rather than under the union’s blanket deals, as he was obviously in higher demand than the replacement level peons. Is that essentially the reason?

Seems like the author glosses over this. How does it sit with folks here? I’ve never seen it discussed. Any tension between the generally pro-union and generally pro-Bonds sentiments?
   5. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 09:19 AM (#5870877)
I'm generally pro-Bonds, but he should have stuck with the union on licensing.

As for scabs, eh. I can't feel that bad for them. Some surely had, or felt like they had, good reasons to cross the picket line but that's the problem. Everyone has good reasons to keep working, and if you cross the line then you're undermining everyone (and yourself). Being cut out of baseball video games is a pretty light penalty considering how many of them stuck around and had reasonably long careers with respect from their fellow players despite being scabs.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 13, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5870914)
Being cut out of baseball video games is a pretty light penalty considering how many of them stuck around and had reasonably long careers with respect from their fellow players despite being scabs.
Did they have respect from their fellow players? I seem to remember there being some lingering resentment.
   7. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: August 13, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5870927)
6: I remember that as well, Face.
4: I'm okay with glossing over Bonds here, as that's not the thrust of this article. That said, I also think he should have stuck with the union on licensing. And, yes, you're correct here + I think there was understandable tension.

Agreed, Scott. (Also, I've heard that about Reed, who I always liked as a player. For that matter, I was a Lightenberg, who was once dealt for a bag of baseballs or some such thing, and Spencer fan as well.)

FWIW, I don't like unions in the abstract - they are as much about punishing those outside the union as helping those within (imo), but - in a world without better labor protections, they seem a necessary evil in many industries.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:03 AM (#5870931)
Did they have respect from their fellow players? I seem to remember there being some lingering resentment.


There was, but I'd say it was less than I would have expected.

   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5870939)
Are there Kevin Millar jerseys? Were they cut out of all licensing or just video games?
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5870948)
Are there Kevin Millar jerseys? Were they cut out of all licensing or just video games?


IIRC, they weren't allowed to print his name on the team balls that have all the fake signatures.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 13, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5870977)
IIRC, they weren't allowed to print his name on the team balls that have all the fake signatures.
Conversely, was he allowed to tattoo a team name on his balls? Because that seems like a Kevin Millar kind of thing to do.
   12. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: August 13, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5870981)
Did they have respect from their fellow players? I seem to remember there being some lingering resentment.
When scab Mike Busch got called up to the Dodgers in '95, it did *not* go over well in the clubhouse.
   13. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 13, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5870982)
The MLBPA refuses to admit MiLBers to their union, but expects them to respect their strikes.

   14. . Posted: August 13, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5870988)
And the MLBPA doesn't respect the strikes of any other unions. If anyone's support of the MLBPA is truly pro-union, rather than fanboy, their energies would be far, far better spent on actual unions.
   15. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 13, 2019 at 01:41 PM (#5870997)
Did they have respect from their fellow players? I seem to remember there being some lingering resentment.


That's true, I guess I might be thinking about later on in their careers, I know Reed was reasonably well liked in the Mets clubhouse and Millar was popular in the Red Sox dugout.

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