The first strike in MLB (and pro sports) happened on this day in 1972

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Navigating the internet on April 1 is an annual nightmare, but worry not, this newsletter comes bearing facts only. This date is the anniversary of an important labor battle in MLB history: April 1, 1972 was the beginning of the first strike in MLB history, and in professional sports.

MLB’s owners were shocked to find out that the players were striking, even though their actions are what pushed the players into this historic moment in the first place. It was an easily avoidable strike, too, given the issue that the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB were negotiating in the lead-up to it. The union wanted an increase to the owners’ contributions to the players’ pension, in light of the existence of things like “rising cost of healthcare” and “inflation” and “a four-year, $70 million television deal with NBC that injected massive quantities of cash into MLB, cash the players weren’t necessarily going to ever see in a pre-free agency world.” MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller even had a plan for this increase to be funded, without the owners having to spend any of their own money to do it: the existing pension fund created income just by being there, and Miller suggested using the surplus $500,000 to fund the players’ retirement benefits.

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