In 1994, a players’ strike ended the Major League Baseball season in August. A third of the regular-season games were canceled, depriving some players of a chance to make baseball history with these records. This article was first posted in our 29th annual edition, Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader.
First .400 Hitter in 50 Years
The last player to bat over .400 in a season was Ted Williams, with a .406 batting average in 1941. Three-time batting champion Tony Gwynn might have topped .400 if the season weren’t cut short. At the time of the strike, he had a .394 average, the highest since Williams’s banner year.
Single-Season Home Run Record
It’s since been topped several times (Barry Bonds set the current record of 73 in 2001), but in 1994, Roger Maris’s 61 homers in 1961 was the one to beat. When the strike began, Matt Williams of the San Francisco Giants had 43 home runs. At that pace over a full season, he would have tied or broken Maris’s 61.
Worst Record for a Division Winner
At the season’s abrupt end, the Texas Rangers led the American League West despite having a losing record of 52–62. The last-place teams in the other two AL divisions, the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers, both had records of 53–62, better than the Rangers.
The Expos in the World Series
Before moving to Washington, D.C., in 2005, the Expos played 26 seasons in Montreal and never made the World Series. (Only one other modern franchise has done that: the Seattle Mariners.) The 1994 season was the best shot they ever had. At the time of the strike, their 74–40 record was the best in baseball.
Only 27 players have hit at least 500 home runs. That feat is a virtual free pass into the Baseball Hall of Fame (not including players who may have used performance-enhancing drugs). Fred McGriff is tied with Lou Gehrig for #28 on the all-time list with 493—and he’s not in the Hall of Fame. In 1994, he knocked 34 balls out of the park, and was on pace to hit 47 for the full season…which would have given him a career total of 506.
An Attendance Record
In only its second year as a franchise, the Colorado Rockies had a total attendance of 3.28 million through 57 home games. Averaged out over a full season, the Rockies would have drawn more than 4.6 million fans and shattered the attendance record of 4.48 million, set a year earlier by…the Colorado Rockies.