The 1994 World Series was canceled on September 14 of that year due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which had begun on August 12. It was only the second time in the event's history (and the first time since 1904) that the Fall Classic was not played.
The Associated Press writers, at the end of the aborted season, chose to name "unofficial" champions when naming their Managers of the Year as Felipe Alou and Buck Showalter, who were leading when the season abruptly ended. Traditionally, the next season's All-Star Game managers are the league champions. Because of the strike, the leagues chose to name their unofficial champion managers to the traditional honor.
The 1994 World Series was supposed to have the NL champion open at home. Because it was canceled, the rotation was pushed back a year - which meant from 1995-2002, the NL champion had home field advantage in odd-numbered years, and AL in even-numbered years. Beginning in 2003, the league that won the All-Star Game had its champion open the World Series at home (as a consequence, since the AL has not lost the All-Star Game since 1996, the NL champ last opened at home in 2001).
The Major League Players Association rejected an owner's salary cap proposal, asking players to split all revenues 50-50. In addition, the citation stated that salary arbitration would be eliminated and free agency for players could be reached after four years in the majors instead of six.
As negotiations continued to heat up, the owners decided to withhold $7.8 million that they were obligated to pay into the players' pension and benefit plans. The final straw fell after the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to approve an antitrust legislation that left the players with little choice but to strike.
On September 14th, the remainder of the baseball season was canceled thirty-four days into the players' strike. As a result, the World Series was also called off for the first time since 1904. Three months later, the owners unilaterally implemented a salary cap as negotiations remained at a standstill.
The 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike was the eighth work stoppage in baseball history, as well as the fourth in-season work stoppage in 23 years. The 232-day strike, which lasted from August 12, 1994, to April 2, 1995, led to the cancellation of between 931 and 948 games overall, including the entire 1994 postseason and World Series (these numbers account for the fact that postseason series can be of varying lengths; in addition, 12 other games scheduled to be played prior to August 12, 1994 were cancelled for other reasons, mainly weather-related). The cancellation of the 1994 World Series was the first since 1904; meanwhile, Major League Baseball became the first professional sport to lose its entire postseason due to a labor dispute.
Owners demanded a salary cap in response to the worsening financial situation in baseball. Ownership claimed that small-market clubs would fall by the wayside unless teams agreed to share local broadcasting revenues (to increase equity amongst the teams) and enact a salary cap, a proposal that the players adamantly opposed. On January 18, 1994, the owners approved a new revenue-sharing plan keyed to a salary cap, which required the players’ approval. The following day, the owners amended the Major League agreement by giving complete power to the commissioner on labor negotiations.
The dispute was played out with a backdrop of years of hostility and mistrust between the two sides. What arguably stood in the way of a compromise settlement was the absence of an official commissioner ever since the owners forced Fay Vincent to resign in September 1992. Vincent described the situation this way:
"The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig."
On February 11, 1994, the owners greatly reduced the commissioner's power to act in "the best interests of baseball."
Owner representative Richard Ravitch officially unveiled the ownership proposal on June 14, 1994. The proposal would guarantee a record $1 billion in salary and benefits. But the ownership proposal also would have forced clubs to fit their payrolls into a more evenly based structure. Salary arbitration would have been eliminated, free agency would begin after four years rather than six, and owners would have retained the right to keep a four or five year player by matching his best offer. Owners claimed that their proposal would raise average salaries from $1.2 million in 1994 to $2.6 million by 2001.
Major League Baseball Players Association leader Donald Fehr rejected the offer from the owners on July 18. Fehr believed that a salary cap was simply a way for owners to clean up their own disparity problems with no benefit to the players.
On July 13, 1993, Fehr said that if serious negotiations between the players and the owners did not begin soon, the players could have gone out on strike in September of that year, threatening the postseason. On December 31, 1993, Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement ran out with no new agreement yet signed.