Players Association set to kick off 51st Spring Training Tour
The Players Association’s tour to meet with players on all clubs during Spring Training is a tradition that dates back to 1966 when founding Executive Director Marvin Miller visited each camp to introduce himself.
That year the key topics of the meeting were an introductory lesson about basic workplace rights and a vote to determine whether the players on each club wanted to hire Miller as the union’s first full-time executive director. The meetings were often held on the field itself as some club owners were initially hostile to the very idea of a players’ union.
Fifty-one years later, Tony Clark, the first player to lead the Players Association, is beginning the 2017 tour to brief players about the new and updated provisions in the recently negotiated five-year Basic Agreement and review issues including the off-season player market, potential on-field rule changes, international play and the World Baseball Classic, and the Players Trust.
Be assured, though, that every spring there has been a list of hot topics for executive directors Miller, Don Fehr, Michael Weiner and, these days, Clark to discuss with players.
It is the one time during each calendar year when the Players Association is entitled to meet with players at the club’s facility. Miller, in fact, negotiated the provision below in the second (1970) Basic Agreement under Article XII – Miscellaneous that established the union’s right to these important meetings:
F. Spring Training-Meetings With Players
The Association shall have the right to hold one team meeting during the Players' normal
working hours, with the Players on each Club in the Club's spring training clubhouse…
While the Basic Agreement has grown from 33 pages in 1970 when Miller first memorialized the meetings to 298 pages today, the provision’s language has changed little since then.
This year, due to the additional logistical demands that come into play with the World Baseball Classic, meetings in Arizona will be held the next three nights, with players on five teams invited to each meeting, at area hotels rather than club facilities.
The following week, Clark and his team of Players Association staff members will resume a more typical camp-to-camp meeting schedule in Florida from Feb. 21 through March 5.