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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Runs, No Hits, No Baseball At All

NEW YORK -- U.S. major-league baseball players went on strike Friday, stalling and perhaps scuttling the season rather than allowing team owners to limit salaries.

Despite an appeal by President Bill Clinton, players packed their bags and headed home with slightly less than one third of the 162-game season left to play.

If there's no deal, the strike would wipe out the final 52 days, forcing the season to end prematurely for the first time since 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson demanded an abrupt conclusion because of World War I.

Players say they are striking because they fear owners will impose a salary cap after the season.

"We hope it's not a long strike," said Tony Gwynn, a San Diego Padres star who is the season's top hitter with a .394 average.

The season came to a halt when Seattle won at Oakland, California, 8-1, the last of Thursday's nine games. It is the sport's eighth work stoppage since 1972.

"There are no talks planned or scheduled at this point," players' union chief Donald Fehr said. He said players were "resigned and resentful."

The owners' negotiator, Richard Ravitch, said there was no indication a settlement would come quickly, leaving the possibility that the World Series -- the U.S. championship, which was played through two world wars -- won't be take place for the first time since 1904.

"The union made it abundantly clear ... that under no circumstances will they negotiate the cost issue in baseball," Ravitch said.

Clinton said he hoped a way out could be found.

"I think the people really ought to be taken into consideration here and I hope they will be," he said. "There are a lot of little kids out there who want to see this season come to a close and there are a lot of not-so-little kids out there who know this is the most exciting baseball season in 40 years."

Even some cracks in the owners' solidarity couldn't stop the strike.

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos doubted management's bargaining strategy, and Colorado Rockies controlling owner Jerry McMorris said a deal could be reached without a salary cap.

Under U.S. labor law, owners can declare an impasse and impose a salary cap system similar to those introduced earlier in professional basketball and American football.

The union maintains players are caught in a struggle between large- and small-market clubs, which in January agreed to a new set of revenue-sharing rules that won't take effect unless the union agrees to a salary cap. The union says the purpose of a cap is to take money away from players and give it to the small-market teams.

The average player salary has surged from $51,501 in 1976 to $1,188,679 on opening day this season.

As Clinton noted, this season has been one of the most exciting in years, with close pennant races and assaults on several long-standing records.