(NEXSTAR) – The ongoing Major League Baseball lockout means opening day has been canceled or delayed for only the fifth time in the sport’s history. Spoiler alert – labor disputes are the key reason others have been affected, too.
After the MLB and the Players Association failed to reach an agreement by management’s Tuesday deadline, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the first two series of the 2022 season, scheduled to begin on March 31, are off the schedule. This is the first time in 27 years that games have been canceled over a labor dispute.
Disputes postponed opening day on three prior occasions: 1995, 1990, and 1972.
The strike of 1994-95 is the longest in MLB history, lasting over 230 days. It caused not only the 1995 season to be delayed but ended the previous season early when a player strike began in August 1994. Games didn’t start again until late April that season after an agreement was reached.
Five years earlier, in 1990, opening day was pushed back for a week amid yet another lockout. Players and owners were battling over free agency, arbitration, and revenue sharing, according to NBC Sports. The start of the regular season that year was pushed back, CBS Sports reports, but no games were formally canceled.
MLB’s first-ever player strike canceled 1972’s opening day. Players were holding out for pension improvements, according to the MLB. Originally scheduled for early April, opening day was pushed back two weeks until owners and players reached an agreement.
Other regular-season games have been canceled before over disputes. In 1981, for example, a 50-day midseason strike over free agency compensation rules canceled 713 games.
Before these games, opening day was canceled only one other time – 1919. The season was delayed for a couple of weeks while teams waited for players to return from military service following the end of World War I.
The last time opening day was rescheduled was in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed opening day into July.
As of Tuesday, only the first two series of the 2022 season have been canceled.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.