Oakland A's History: 1995 Replacement Team

Spring Training 1995 wasn't filled with discussions of the newest free agent signings or the defending World Series champion. Instead, talk of a strike which had robbed baseball of the 1994 post-season dominated. While the strike continued, the owners decide to field teams of replacement players. Donald Moore gives us the history behind that decision and the entire Oakland A's replacement roster.

Do you remember the long and dreary 1994 MLB strike?

That strike lasted a whopping 232 days: August 12,1994-April 2, 1995. A total of 938 games were cancelled and there was no post-season or World Series games played in 1994 for the first time since 1904.

It was one long and ugly battle between the Major League Players Association(MLBPA) and their leader Don Fehr and the Major League Baseball owners. The cause of the strike was due to the fact that baseball owners wanted a salary cap and an agreement to share broadcasting revenues in order to help quell the worsening financial situation in baseball. The players association strongly disagreed, especially over the salary cap. There were years of built-up mistrust from both sides.

The dispute dragged on and on with Congressional hearings, fruitless mediation sessions, court hearings and injunctions, nasty accusations between warring parties and so on and so forth. With no end in sight, on January 13th, 1995, MLB's executive council approved replacement players for the beginning of the 1995 season. Then acting-baseball commissioner Bud Selig said, "We are committed to playing the 1995 season and will do so with the best players willing to play."

Well, the A's front office responded to that challenge and aggressively signed some of the best talent available before other teams could snatch them up. The 1995 Oakland A's replacement club was actually one of the best teams fielded that spring. They went 15-11-1, and came in second, just below the Texas Rangers.

The A's camp roster contained a total of 52 players, with 24 players coming from their minor league system and another 28 players signed as free agents from various Independent and other MiLB clubs. Each team could have up to 32 players and may choose any 25 before each game. Players not activated for the game were called the "taxi squad." There were no disabled lists and players could be traded, waived or assigned to the commissioner's office talent pool, without waivers.

The signing bonus was $5,000, and a player would receive another $5,000 if he made the opening day roster and a termination base pay of $20,000. The seasonal base pay would have been $115,000 per year. There were no guaranteed contracts, no award or performance bonuses either.

Scores of active and retired Minor and Independent leaguers players flocked to MLB spring training camps with hopes of becoming a Major league ball player. The only problem was that the MLBPA considered anyone who played one spring game a 'scab' who would be blackballed forever from joining the baseball's union. In labor terms, a player was crossing a picket line and that is a line that one doesn't cross without consequences.

It was a big risk for some, but to other well-traveled and seasoned minor league players - most of whom would have never made the majors anyway, and, therefore, wouldn't be in the MLBPA union - it was a golden opportunity.

In addition to the players who suited up that spring for the A's, another 98 ex-and future Oakland A's Minor and Major league players participated as replacement players for other teams besides the A's. A few notable names who would go on to play for the A's well after the 1995 strike season include C Damian Miller, RHP Mike Warren, RHP Joe Slusarski, LHP Ron Mahay, OF Billy McMillan, RHP Cory Lidle, 2B Frankie Menechino, INF Barabo Garbey and current Sacramento Rivercat INF Lou Merloni.

Not all of the players who suited up for the A's appeared in a spring game that season. Some signed and got hurt or decided against being blackballed by the MLBPA. Those names are denoted with (DNP)=DID NOT PLAY. And without further adieu, below is the entire1995 Oakland A's replacement players roster.

Former 1984 Olympian RHP Sid Akins (DNP)
RHP Bruce Arola
LHP Scott Baldwin
RHP Jeff Bittinger
RHP Marco Contreras
RHP Jerry Creamer
LHP Ian Epstein
RHP Dennis Gonsalves (DNP)
RHP Gary Haught
RHP Tom Hostetler
LHP Joe Kraemer
RHP Larry Melton
RHP Dan Murphy
RHP Frank Mutz
LHP Pat O'Brein
LHP Ric Odekirk
RHP Arturo Ontiveros
RHP Gary Painter
RHP Barry Parisotto
RHP Clay Parker (DNP)
RHP Tim Peek
RHP Rob Pierce
RHP Scott Rose
RHP Steve Shoemaker
RHP Tim Smith
RHP Chuck Stanhopea
RHP Aaron Taylor
RHP Carlos Thomas
RHP Joe Warren (DNP)
RHP Ryan Whitaker

Garrett Beard
Tom Carcione
Clay Gunn
Darrell Proctor (DNP)

2B Brain Eldridge
3B Vincete Francisco
SS Mike Hankins
2B Keith Kimberlin
2B Doug Saunders
1B Ken Shamburg
3B Mark Sobolewski
2B Tim Taylor
3B Jimmy Waggoner
1B Ron Witmeyer

Kash Beauchamp
Pat Brady
Steve DeAngelis
Jason Felice
Terrance Frazier
Stu Pederson
Shawn Scott
Dane Walker

On March 29th, the MLBPA voted to return to work if a U.S. District Court Judge supported the National Labor Relations Board's unfair labor practices complaint against the owners. Despite the MLBPA's action, the MLB owner's voted to have replacement players begin the 1995 season by a vote of 26-2. The strike ended when Federal judge Sonia Sotomayor ruled in favor of the players over the owners on March 31, 1995.

Finally, the 232 day baseball strike was over and another shortened phase two of spring training began with the MLBPA players. Many of the clubs released most of their replacement players from their contracts, but the A's organization was one of the few exceptions. They stayed loyal to some of their replacement players and awarded them minor league assignments throughout their system. A total of 19 players received contracts.

I don't know how good the replacement player team play would have been if they had indeed played in the regular 1995 season, but I'm sure that the Oakland A's would have been a fun group to watch.

ED. Note: My sources come from 1995 and 1996 Oakland A's information Media guides, Jason Roberston of www.Baseball-Alamanc.com and "1994 Major League Baseball Strike " on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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