Although fuming over a huge payment they didn't get, baseball players decided to keep their walkout date set for next Friday.
"We see this as an act of war," Kansas City Royals pitcher David Cone said of management's decision not to make a $7.8 million payment to the union's benefit plan.With words and stances sharpened, many players wanted to strike today. However, the executive board of the players' association listened to the advice from union head Donald Fehr, who urged them to stay with the Aug. 12 date the board set last week.
"Just because the owners are behaving in an irresponsible and provocative manner doesn't mean the players have to do so," Fehr said at a news conference Thursday.
Players throughout the majors had prepared for a strike to start today. Chicago Cubs player representative Randy Myers tacked up a note in the clubhouse that said: "All players pack and send home excess equipment. Will inform later on details."
About three hours before gametime at Dodger Stadium, the stereo in the Los Angeles clubhouse was playing a song by "The Clash" called "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?"
For now, the answer was stay.
"We feel that they were trying to push our hot button to get us to go out earlier than the date we specified," Dodgers player representative Brett Butler said.
Fans, enjoying the most entertaining season in years, showed their anger when about 500 of them walked out during the third inning at Arlington, Texas, where the Chicago White Sox were playing the Rangers. The 500 fans who walked responded to the urgings of a radio announcer and almost all returned to their seats after the inning.
"I hope very much between now and the 12th the players will indicate some willingness to respond to our concept and we can begin a serious negotiation over dollars," management negotiator Richard Ravitch said. "I still retain my optimism that it would be an act of self-immolation for the players to hurt this game and hurt the fans."