MLB

Your! Call: When did you forgive baseball for the '94 strike?

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Sarita Patel
8/12/2014 7:18:00 PM
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Baseball has one of the best fan experience in sports, and 20 years ago today that was taken away from the people that love it the most.

Strikes and lockouts have not been a rarity in the professional sports world, but there is one that many will not forget. 

The 1994 Major League Baseball Players strike, which led the sport to lose its entire postseason due to a labour dispute, the first time that happened in a North American sports league.

One of the main disputes that caused the Players to walk off the job was that the Owners wanted to install a salary cap, while the players opposed the idea. That disagreement plus a few others, led to a 232-day strike, cancelling not only the remainder of the regular season but also the postseason.

The Montreal Expos were arguably the team that suffered the most; they had the best record in baseball, 74-40, despite having the second lowest payroll.  They were six games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division when the season came to a halt. 

Success in strike years was not something new for the Expos, the only time the team punched their ticket to the playoffs was in 1981, during the last significant players' strike. 

Following the resumption of the sport, the Expos moved a lot of their star players, which lead to an even bigger erosion of the fan base.

Montreal was not the only market hit hard by the stoppage, many fans around the league decided to opt out of games when the players returned to the field.

Attendance was at an all-time low, dropping 20% from the previous season.  In 1994, prior to the strike, the average attendance was 31,256 in 1,600 games, while in 2,016 regular season games of the 1995 season they drew an average of 25,008 fans.

Interest in the game was slow to return until the 1998 season when Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire started hitting home runs at record paces.

The two sluggers may be the reason the love for baseball returned, their chase for the all-time single season home-run record grabbed the attention of former and current die-hard fans as well as casual viewers.  The two players were looking to surpass New York Yankee Roger Maris' record of 61 homers which he hit during the 1961 season.  Both men had a competitive drive, but their personalities and newly formed friendship also helped them grab people's attention.

Maris' single season record fell that year as Mark McGwire finished with 70 home runs and Sammy Sosa ended the season with 66 round trippers and though those marks have since been cast into doubt, there is no question about the lasting effect their work that season had on restoring fans of the game.

It's been 20 years since the strike, how long did it take you to forgive baseball and come back?

As always it's Your! Call.

MLB Strike Fans (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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