BASEBALL UNION. For almost a century, baseball's reserve system bound players to their clubs for life or until the club decided to trade or release them. In the decade following April 1966, the Major League Baseball Players Association changed that, altering the economic structure of baseball in a way that would have an impact on all professional team sports. The start of the process was the decision of the players to hire Marvin J. Miller, an executive with the United Steelworkers of America, as their first full-time executive director. The defining moment for the future of the union was the solidarity that allowed it to prevail during its first strike in 1972.
The basis for all of the union's future success was in 1968, when it negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the owners that included an impartial grievance procedure. In 1970, Curt Flood sued to overturn the reserve system on antitrust grounds but lost at trial and before the Supreme Court in 1972. In 1975, two players challenged the contractual basis of the reserve system. The arbitrator, Peter Seitz, upheld their grievance, declaring them to be free agents. The impact was both immediate and far-reaching. In 1966, the minimum salary was $6,000, and the average was $19,000. By 1981 these figures were $32,500 and $185,651, and by 2000, $200,000 and $1,398,830.
Salary increases were not the only consequences. There were work stoppages in 1972, 1976, 1981, 1985, 1990, and 1994–1995. Free agent movement, length of contracts, and the size of salaries became as important as the statistics normally associated with the sport. The attitude of the public toward athletes and sports was altered forever. And every other professional team sport had to create systems to deal with the new aspirations of their players to emulate the success of the major league baseball players.
Burk, Robert F. Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners and Baseball Since 1921. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Koppett, Leonard. Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.
Korr, Charles. The End of Baseball As We Knew It: The Players Union, 1960–1981. With Foreword by Bob Costas. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002.
Lowenfish, Lee. The Imperfect Diamond: A History of Baseball's Labor Wars. Rev. ed. New York: De Capo Press, 1991.
Miller, Marvin. A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sport and the Business of Baseball. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1991.
"Baseball Union." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 21, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/baseball-union
"Baseball Union." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved April 21, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/baseball-union
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.