Feb 20, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Possible Players Strike Looms At Spring Training

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

On 1969 the MLB season was in jeopardy right as Spring Training was about to begin. What has now become common every few years, was pretty ne back then, a Players strike was looming. 

The newly formed MLB Players Association (1966) was fronted by Marvin Miller, who had negotiated labor agreements for the National War Labor Board, the International Association of Machinist, the United Auto Workers Union & most recently the United Steel Workers Union. Miller would change the way baseball operated forever.

In 1969 the main issue was the players pensions, mostly how revenues from the gate& television dollars from the World Series & All Star Games were distributed to the plan. In 1969 NBC had signed a three year $45 million dollar deal. Lots of bucks for that era.

Some players not all on board yet with the union idea, crossed the picket lines but many did not, especially the big names. 

Tom Seaver who would be the Mets Player Rep. held work outs for Mets players privately, in a playground near his Florida apartment. Jerry Koosman, Bud Harrelson, & Al Jackson were some who attended the sessions to stay in shape. 

Quotes- Tom Seaver: "We're running, playing catch & doing some sit ups. We'll be ready when the time comes".

Seaver even Met with Mets President Johnny Murphy, to tell him how he felt about the whole issue. He did not work out in Mets camp.

On February 24th, just before the midnight hour, an agreement was reached. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had flow to New York late that weekend to urge both sides to settle. According to Kuhn a fair deal for both sides was finalized including: better retirement benefits, more life insurance coverage, & retirement age lowered to 45.

Quotes- Marvin Miller: "The players held ranks remarkably well, you can't believe what pressure some of them were under. Nobody is being critical of others, but facts are facts". Miller was happy about the deal but not ecstatic.

Trivia: 1969 was the first year of divisional play, the two leagues were broken down to Eastern & Western Divisions with a five game playoff between the two divisional champions to be played at the end of the 162 game season. The winners went to a seven game World Series.

Also the NL had added two teams, the Montreal Expos & San Diego Padres. The AL added the Kansas City Royals & the Seattle Pilots. The Pilots were to become the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970.

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