Major League Baseball Players Association

Full name Major League Baseball Players Association
Founded 1966[1]
Members 1200
Key people Tony Clark
(Executive Director)
Curtis Granderson
(National League Association Representative)
Jeremy Guthrie
(American League Association Representative)
Office location New York, NY
Country United States, Canada

The Major League Baseball Players Association (or MLBPA) is the collective bargaining representative for all current Major League Baseball players. All players, managers, coaches, and trainers who hold or have held a signed contract with a Major League club are eligible for membership in the Association.

The MLBPA has three major divisions: a labor union, a business (Players Choice Group Licensing Program), and a charitable foundation (Major League Baseball Players Trust).[2]

The MLBPA primarily serves as a collective bargaining representative for all Major League Baseball players, as well as playing significant roles in MLB-related business and non-profit affairs.

Players Choice group licensing

The MLBPA’s “Players Choice” group licensing program utilizes collective marketing to assist licensees and sponsors who want to associate their brands and products with that of Major League players, teams, and coaches. Through an individual agreement with each player, the MLBPA holds exclusive right to use, license and sublicense the names, numbers, nicknames, likenesses, signatures and other personal indicia (known as “publicity rights”) of active Major League Baseball players who are its members for use in connection with any product, brand, service or product line when more than two players are involved.

Among its other functions, the Players Choice licensing program also protects the rights of players from exploitation by unauthorized parties.[3]

Major League Baseball Players Trust

Major League Baseball players also formed the Players Trust, a charitable foundation that is the first of its kind in professional sports. Through the Players Trust, Major Leaguers contribute their time, money and fame to call attention to important issues affecting those in need and to help encourage others to get involved in their own communities.

Many programs including Buses for Baseball, City Clinics, Medicines for Humanity, the Players Choice Awards and Volunteers of America are funded through the foundation.[4]

Action Team

In 2003, the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America created the Action Team National Youth Volunteer Program to recruit and train high school students to become volunteers in their communities.[5]

Players Choice Awards

Main article: Players Choice Awards

The Players Choice Awards is an award ceremony held to recognize each season's best performers, as chosen by the players themselves. Each Players Choice Awards winner designates the charity of his choice to receive a grant from the Player's Trust.[6]


The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players. Earlier attempts had included:




Executive Director

The Marvin Miller era (1966–82)

The organization that would eventually become the MLBPA was conceived in 1953. However, it was not officially recognized as a union until 1966. It is in this year that the newly recognized union hired Marvin Miller from the United Steel Workers of America to head the organization, serving as Executive Director until 1983. In 1968, Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the team owners, which raised the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000 per year.[9] The 1970 CBA included arbitration to resolve disputes.[8] In 1972 the major leagues saw their first player strike, in opposition to the owners' refusal to increase player pension funds.

In 1974, when owner Charlie Finley failed to make a $50,000 payment into an insurance annuity as called for in Catfish Hunter's contract, the MLBPA took the case to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled that Hunter could be a free agent.[10]

During Miller's tenure, base salaries, pension funds, licensing rights and revenues were increased. Miller challenged the reserve clause which was used by team owners to bind players to one team. The strength of the union was immeasurably increased by the creation of the modern free agent system following the Seitz decision in 1975.

Players and owners failed to come to terms over free agent compensation, which led to another strike in 1981. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the MLBPA filed collusion charges, arguing that team owners had violated the collective bargaining agreement in the 1985–1987 seasons. The MLBPA won each case, resulting in "second look" free agents, and over $269 million in owner fines.[11]


Recent history

Donald Fehr joined the MLBPA as general counsel in 1977 and was named executive director in 1985, leading it through the 1994 Major League Baseball strike and recent issues.

On June 22, 2009, Fehr announced he would step down, and after a transition period and was replaced by the union's general counsel, Michael Weiner.[12]

On November 21, 2013, MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner died after a 15-month battle with a non-operable brain tumor. He was 51 years old. Tony Clark, the Deputy Executive Director, was named Executive Director on December 2, 2013, the first former major league player to hold the position.[13]

In 2016, the MLBPA celebrated its 50th anniversary as a union, commemorating the event at the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game with a redesigned golden logo and merchandise such as T-shirts.[14]

Basic agreements

In 1968, the Major League Baseball Players Association negotiated the first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in professional sports. The current agreement expires on Dec. 1, 2016.[15]

MLBPA/MLB Joint Initiatives

Joint Drug Agreement

The Joint Drug Agreement went into effect in December 2011 and is scheduled to terminate Dec. 1, 2016, the same date as the Basic Agreement. The prohibited substances section of the Joint Drug Agreement is updated annually.[16]

Domestic Violence Policy

In August 2015, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA reached agreement on the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, and is intended to provide a comprehensive policy addressing issues such as protecting the legal rights of players, treating violations seriously, holding players accountable through appropriate disciplinary measures and providing resources for the intervention and care of victims, families and the players themselves.[17]

The terms of this joint policy cover four primary areas: Treatment & Intervention; Investigations; Discipline; and Training, Education & Resources.

Youth Baseball initiative

In June 2016, Executive Director, Tony Clark and Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred along with Curtis Granderson, Andrew McCutchen, Marquis Grissom and Ken Griffey Jr. announced major initiatives within youth baseball in a press conference held at Citi Field.

On top of jointly donating over $2 million several youth-focused initiatives supported by current and former Major League player, other major initiatives included financial contributions to youth baseball projects and the creation of a partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance for the training of coaches and administrators from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.[18]


Salary cap

As of 2014, Major League Baseball is the only major professional sports league in North America that does not have a salary cap; the MLS, NHL, NBA and NFL all implement some sort of salary cap.


The MLBPA was initially opposed to random steroid testing, claiming it to be a violation of the privacy of players. After enormous negative publicity surrounding the alleged or actual involvement of several star players in the BALCO steroid scandal, the players dropped their opposition to a steroid testing program and developed a consensus that favored testing. Under pressure from US Congress which threatened to pass a law if the MLB's drug policy was not strengthened, the baseball union agreed in 2005 to a stricter policy that would include 50-game, 100-game, and lifetime suspensions.[19]


  1. "Frequently Asked Questions: 'When was the MLBPA created?'". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  2. "Frequently Asked Questions: 'What does the MLBPA do?'". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  3. "Licensing". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  4. "About | The Players Trust". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  5. "About | The Players Trust". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  6. "Players Choice Awards | The Players Trust". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  7. Spalding, Albert G. (1911). American National Game.
  8. 1 2 "History of the Major League Baseball Players Association".
  9. History of the MLBPA. The Major League Baseball Players Association. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  10. Catfish Hunter
  11. The Economic History of Major League Baseball Michael J. Haupert, University of Wisconsin -- La Crosse
  12. "Fehr to Leave Job Held Since 1985". 22 June 2009.
  15. "Frequently Asked Questions: 'When does the current CBA expire?'". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  16. "Basic Agreement". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  17. "MLB, MLBPA agree on domestic violence policy". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  18. "MLB, MLBPA announce new youth initiatives". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  19. "MLBPA/MLB joint announcement". MLBPA. 2005-11-15. Retrieved 2007-03-21.

Further reading

External links

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