September 16, 2010 – When the major league baseball lockout of 1994 dragged into the spring of 1995, the owners announced that they would start the season with “replacement players,” made up of minor leaguers and even some current or former major leaguers were willing to cross picket lines. Those that did would be ineligible to be members of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). These players do not pay union dues, but will receive full pension benefits from MLB. They also can use the Player’s Association’s grievance procedure. They do not receive a share of the collective royalties from the sale of baseball merchandise, such as baseball cards, but are free to make their own deals (this is why Rick Reed and others only appear on Topps cards as they have historically only signed individual players rather than work with the player’s union).
The strike was settled before any “regular season” games were played in 1995 and these replacement players were sent packing. There is a nice write-up on Baseball Almanac about this situation and the list of players that participated and that have seen major league service since that time. There are four players on the list with ties to the Minnesota Twins and one of the four actually played for the Twins the last two seasons, Ron Mahay. Oddly enough, Mahay was an outfielder at the time and didn’t start to call the mound home until 1996. The other players that were replacement players and played for the Twins were Chris Latham, Damian Miller, and Rick Reed.
The list on Baseball-Almanac is probably not all-inclusive as you can find various lists on the internet that name other players and I have seen former Twins Junior Ortiz and Dan Mastellar also listed as replacement players. The fact that some players played under an “alias” makes it even more difficult to determine a complete list of these replacement players.
It was a tough time and each of these players had their own reasons for crossing the picket line and I am not here to judge if what they did is right or wrong, you can only say that they did what they thought they had to do for themselves and their families in a stressful time for all. Mark Beech did a short piece for Sports Illustrated back in 2002 showing some of the consequences for players that did cross the picket line that you can read here. Hopefully we will not see another situation like this in our lifetime again.