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.