Allentown Morning Call - March 6, 1980
Phillies first to vote ‘strike’
John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Pete Rose said yesterday's meeting with Marvin Miller was a "good meeting and a bad meeting."
First, the "good" part, according to Rose. "The players," he said, "found out about all the hangups… they knew some of the stuff, but now they got it in detail, right from the horse's mouth (Miller.)”
Now, the "bad" part, according to Rose. "This (a proposed strike) is a helluva lot more serious than people think."
In other words, a baseball strike has a better than even chance. “I’d say there is a very good possibility of a strike," said Rose.
One observer put it this way: "The gun has been loaded, the hammer is being cocked and the Players' Association is ready to pull the trigger."
The Phillies were first to voice their support behind the association's executive committee, which on Tuesday authorized director Miller to begin conducting a formal vote seeking ratification for a strike on or after April 1.
The Phillies, after a two-hour meeting with Miller before going out on the practice fields, voted, in a hand vote, unanimously (40-0) supporting a strike, if needed.
"I didn't expect the vote to be anything but unanimous," said catcher Bob Boone, who said he spent a frustrating day at the executive committee meeting in nearby Tampa. Boone is the club's player representative.
Rose knows the consequences of a strike, from the personal side of Pete Rose to the players' side to the owners' side. "It ain't gonna do anybody any good," he said.
Rose, after a deep sigh, added: "There's gonna be a lot of people mad at me (if there is a strike) because they know how much money I make. Hell, I don't want any more money."
While Rose says he hates the words boycott or strike said he'd be 100 percent behind a strike because "I have all the respect in the world for Marvin Miller."
Rose said: "A strike isn't going to help players like me. This is for the younger players. They are the ones who will benefit by the new contract. What happened in 1972 helped me."
The reference was to the benefits derived from the 1972 strike tfiat eventually gave Rose a green light to Philadelphia – with a suitcase full of money.
What bugs Rose more than anything else is that "we didn't get any straight answers from the owners, and now, here it is, spring training, the season just around the corner and we have this B.S."
It's a matter of timing, according to Rose. "Truck drivers, plumbers, electricians, they all strike," he said, "but ours is a little different because of the timing. This thing should have been negotiated months ago. I guess the owners didn't want to. They always feel they'll look at things down the road. Well, we're down the road now."
Earlier, Miller said much of the same thing. "We've been trying to cover everything for the last 16 weeks and made no progress," he said. "The owners didn't seem interested."
What it boils down to, from the players' side, anyway, is that a lot of things have to be ironed out in the next four weeks. If nothing happened in 16 weeks, how could things straighten out in a month or less?
Larry Bowa said: "If the owners want a strike, they'll get it. As sad as it seems, I think they do want one. If they didn't, something would have happened by now.”
Rose said the association is pursuing the salary structure and the free agent compensation the hardest. "And, if you look at those two items," he said, "you can understand why. They are ridiculous."
Rose backs Miller's contention that "the owners want to eliminate the free agent system," then asks: "Why should a team like Philly have to give up a 16th, 17th or 18th player to get a player like me… it doesn't make sense."
The owners compensation proposal seeks to freeze 15 players from a roster, allowing the team which lost the free agent to claim any other player. "That eliminates the bargaining power," said Rose.
Rose said he couldn't go into the "figures and statistics" involved because "I don't know them that well, and, besides, you guys the press would need 14 columns to write it all up."
Rose, who will be 39 on April 14, three days after the Phils open their season, if there is one, says, "I don't consider myself an old man, but when I won rookie of the year (in 1963), I got a $5,000 raise the next season. You know how that has changed. That has changed just like the one-year contracts. You don't have those any more, they're a thing of the past. The multiyear contracts of today are paid on potential, not competitiveness."
From the way the owners have set up the salary structure, it is. indeed, a step back in time. But, then, too, who started all this big money-saving trend? Obviously the owners did. Now, it becomes something they have to live with.
It's the old story of the wealthy, carefree owners who wanted to buy championships that dished out all the big money. Don't fault the players – if the money's there, why not take it. The system was created, now baseball has to live with it – with or without sympathy.