The 1981 Major League Baseball strike began on June 12. The issue was free agency, which had caused owners to offer lucrative contracts to star players in order to keep them. Owners decided they wanted to be compensated for players they lost to free agency, a move that would have cost the players considerable leverage. So rather than allow the owners to level the playing field, the players went on strike.
The dispute was resolved on July 31, 50 days after the strike was called. In the final tally, the season lost 713 games — and $150 million in broadcast revenue, concession sales, players’ salaries, and ticket sales were lost as well. However, even though the players called the strike, the owners got the blame, and the cover of the June 22, 1981 issue of Sports Illustrated featured the headline "Strike! The Walkout the Owners Provoked."
Pictured: Outfielder Reggie Jackson talks with entertainer Bob Hope, Cammissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn and vice president of the United States George H.W. Bush while he awaits an at bat in the on deck circle during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game game on August 9, 1981 in Cleveland, Ohio. The All-Star Game, which was originally scheduled to be held on July 14, served as a prelude to play resuming on August 10.