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The Day in Sports | Countdown to 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: APRIL 2, 1980

This Kind of Strike Wasn't Autry's Brand of Baseball

April 02, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

No one had ever seen the Cowboy so hot.

When major league baseball's players announced a strike 19 years ago, Angel owner Gene Autry erupted, saying he was in favor of writing off the season.

"Frankly, if I had my say and other owners agreed with me, I'd close down the season," he said.

"What's the sense in going out again? It's a waste of our time, their time and a lot of money. . . . I would just as soon forget the season."

The strike affected only the remaining spring exhibition games, with the players saying they would report for opening day the next week.

Not if the Cowboy had anything to say about it.

"I'm sure there was a time when the pendulum was all on the side of the owners and that they took advantage of the players," he said.

"Now it's all on the players' side and it may be that the only way to get it back in the middle, is through a one-year moratorium.

"It would be all right with me because I personally don't get any money from baseball anyway."

Buzzie Bavasi, an Angel vice president, was also steamed, after learning Angel players had told Autry in a letter they "appreciated all they [management]had done for them," but that they were going on strike anyway.

"I think it's both funny and sad how so many players are now saying what a great guy Gene is and how they hate to be doing this to him," Bavasi said. "Well, then, hell, don't do it. I mean, I hear that and I feel like punching them in the nose."

Also on this date: In 1962, in the first game between the teams, the Angels beat the Dodgers at Palm Springs, 6-5, before 5,180, among them former President Eisenhower.

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