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On August 11th, 1994, the Major League Baseball season ended early due to the players strike and wouldn’t resume play until April 25th, 1995. It would take a while for the fans to warm up again to be sport but one thing that’s never really talked about is what was lost in that final month and a half.
These were moments that realistically could have been talked about for ages to come but instead are viewed as irrelevant thanks to the circumstance.
So what was lost? Well, let’s take a look.
1994 Home Run Chase:
Everyone knows the home run chase of 1998 between St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Sammy Sosa. It was the CPR baseball needed following the strike. However, 1994 saw something similar between San Francisco Giants’ third baseman Matt Williams and Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Ken Griffey Jr..
In that final month and a half, Griffey Jr. had 40 home runs and was on pace to hit 58. Williams had 43 and was on pace to hit 62, which would have broken the record set by New York Yankees’ outfielder Roger Maris in 1961 (61 home runs).
Had the season not been cut, all eyes would have been on these two looking to etch their name into baseball history. To have had a second home run chase would have done wonders for the baseball world at that time.
Tony Gwynn Makes History:
San Diego Padres’ outfielder Tony Gwynn is considered one of best hitters of all time. With over 3,000 hits and a batting average of .338, Gwynn is often mentioned with Boston Red Sox legendary outfielder Ted Williams in terms of contact. In 1994, Gwynn had a chance to join an exclusive club with Williams.
Going into August 11th, Gwynn had a .394 batting average that season, and given his consistency, would have more than likely broken .400. The last player to do that was Williams in 1941.
Instead, Gwynn has been the closest to breaking a .400 average in a single season. Others have come close but Gwynn was only .006 away.
Showalter’s Last Stand:
One of the biggest moves made in 1996 was the New York Yankees firing manager Buck Showalter and hiring Joe Torre. The firing proved effective as New York would go on to six American League Pennants, four World Series titles and the building of a perennial playoff team. However, that may not have happened had the season not been cut short.
Going into a crucial stretch, New York was leading the American League East by 6.5 games and had the best record in the American League. Barring a misstep, they would have more than likely won the pennant that year and gone to the World Series.
While they won the Wild Card the next year, they were knocked out in the first round by Seattle and finished behind their rivals, Boston. A trip to the World Series would have bought Showalter another year other than 1995. Who knows what happens then?
Saving The Expos:
15 years after departing from Montreal, the Washington Nationals won their first National League pennant and first World Series in franchise history. However, had the strike not happened, the Washington Nationals may have never existed.
The day the strike took effect, Montreal was the best team in baseball. They were also riding a huge wave of momentum, going 46-18 since June 1st. Lead by outfielders Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom and Moises Alou and coached by Moises’ father Felipe Alou; they were the team to beat.
Instead, their record and stats are kept in the history book as an incomplete season. They’d never sniff the playoffs until their move following the 2004 season.
Had the strike not happened, baseball would probably still be in Montreal. Olympic Stadium would be used more than just as a part time host to Major League Soccer match ups and Canadien Football League games.
Players like outfielder Bryce Harper, shortstop Trea Turner and pitchers Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin would have the Expos logo on their caps instead of the Nationals DC logo. It’s funny how one instance killed an entire franchise.