Skip to main content
Year
1972
Month Day
April 01

First MLB players' strike begins

At 12:01 a.m. on April 1, 1972, the first collective players’ strike in Major League Baseball history begins. The strike lasts 12 days, ending on April 13, and 86 games are cancelled, throwing the season into flux from the start.

The cause of baseball’s first strike was the expiration of the league’s three-year pension agreement. The Major League Baseball Players Association, led by seasoned union negotiator Marvin Miller, had made modest requests to increase benefits. However, the owners balked at the proposals, and never took the players’ threat to strike seriously.

In his book, A Whole Different Ballgame, Miller wrote: "The last thing I expected in 1972 was a strike. The owners had decided to bring the Players Association's progress to a halt either by provoking a strike, which they felt confident of winning, or by forcing the players to back down and accept their unreasonable position in the negotiations."

As it turned out, the players were prepared to take control of their own destiny. In fact, the players voted 663-10 in favor of authorizing their executive committee to call a strike. MLBPA general counsel Dick Moss advised the players that it was not the right time to strike because they had yet to be paid that season and didn’t have a strike fund. But the players stood their ground.

Oakland A’s star Reggie Jackson yelled at a meeting with Miller and Moss: “Goddammit, there are just times when you've got to stand up for your rights!” Although the players were not paid for the 12 days of the strike, their effort ultimately was a success. Owners agreed to a $500,000 increase in the pension fund and to allow salary arbitration.

The 1972 MLB season yielded some bizarre results from the strike—some teams only played 153 games instead of the customary 162. The Detroit Tigers won the AL East by a half-game over the Boston Red Sox, who played one fewer game than the Tigers. 

READ MORE: Who Invented Baseball?

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Villanova wins NCAA basketball title in stunning upset

On April 1, 1985, in one of the most shocking upsets in college basketball history, Villanova beats heavily favored, Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown, 66-64, to win the NCAA basketball title. The Wildcats, led by Dwayne McClain’s 17 points, execute a perfect game plan and shoot 79 ...read more

The Pilgrim-Wampanoag peace treaty

At the Plymouth settlement in present-day Massachusetts, the leaders of the Plymouth colonists, acting on behalf of King James I, make a defensive alliance with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags. The agreement, in which both parties promised to not “doe hurt” to one another, was ...read more

RAF founded

On April 1, 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is formed with the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The RAF took its place beside the British navy and army as a separate military service with its own ministry. In April 1911, eight ...read more

The “Polish Prince” killed in plane crash

On April 1, 1993, race car driver and owner Alan Kulwicki, who won the 1992 National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup championship by one of the tightest margins in series history, is killed in a plane crash near Bristol, Tennessee, where he was ...read more

April Fools’ tradition popularized

On April 1, 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a ...read more

U.S. troops land on Okinawa

On April 1, 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the ...read more

Nixon signs legislation banning cigarette ads on TV and radio

On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signs legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio. Nixon, who was an avid pipe smoker, indulging in as many as eight bowls a day, supported the legislation at the increasing insistence of public health advocates. ...read more

Marvin Gaye is shot and killed by his own father

At the peak of his career, Marvin Gaye was the Prince of Motown—the soulful voice behind hits as wide-ranging as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Like his label-mate Stevie Wonder, Gaye both epitomized and outgrew the crowd-pleasing sound ...read more

Jane Austen declines royal writing advice

Jane Austen responds to a letter from the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) suggesting she write a historic romance, saying, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.” Austen’s correspondence with the Prince Regent, as ...read more

Soap operas "General Hospital" and "The Doctors" premiere

On April 1, 1963, the ABC television network airs the premiere episode of General Hospital, the daytime drama that will become the network’s most enduring soap opera and the longest-running serial program produced in Hollywood. On the same day, rival network NBC debuts its own ...read more

Alaskan earthquake triggers massive tsunami

On April 1, 1946, an undersea earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggers a massive tsunami that kills 159 people in Hawaii. In the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, a 7.4-magnitude tremor was recorded in the North Pacific. (The nearest land was Unimak ...read more

Hitler sentenced for his role in Beer Hall Putsch

Adolf Hitler is sentenced for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch of November 8, 1923. The attempted coup in Munich by right-wing members of the army and the Nazi Party was foiled by the government, and Hitler was charged with high treason. Despite his conviction, Hitler was out of ...read more

First U.S. House of Representatives elects speaker

On April 1, 1789, the first U.S. House of Representatives, meeting in New York City, reaches quorum and elects Pennsylvania Representative Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg as its first speaker. Muhlenberg, a Lutheran minister and the former president of the Pennsylvania ...read more