MELBOURNE, FLA. — THEY got closer to 15 days of fame than the usual 15 minutes. But the firemen, shoe salesmen, and career minor leaguers who made up the replacement rosters of Major League Baseball were facing the prospect over the weekend of going back to their normal lives.
For them, the possibility of playing in the big leagues not only fulfilled boyhood dreams, but also meant substantial money. For instance, each replacement player would have gotten a $5,000 bonus just for playing the first game.
Now the replacement Marlins are pushing for the $20,000 in severance pay as well.
They were scheduled to play the season opener last night, but the game was postponed after an injunction was granted Friday, ordering the owners to restore elements of a previous collective bargaining agreement. The action prompted the players to end their nearly eightmonth old strike and offer to return to work. The owners met yesterday to decide whether to invite the players back or lock them out. (A final vote was expected in Chicago after deadlines).
Major League Baseball owners and regular players were expected to end their 232-day dispute yesterday (a final vote by owners on resuming spring training games with regular players occurred in Chicago after deadlines).
Catcher Rey Palacios says the money would make everyone a little happier to go home. He lost his health insurance when he left his job as a fireman and when his three-year-old daughter required medical attention recently, he had to pay $200 out of pocket. ''I've never experienced a week like this in 17 years of baseball,'' says Marlins first baseman Rick Lancellotti, a minor league veteran. ''It's been emotionally draining.''
The 33 players on the Marlins roster will now either be sent home or to minor league camps. First baseman Kevin Millar said ''I just feel we deserve it. It's time for the little guy to get something in life.''
Marlins relief pitcher Chris Marchok, scribbling on a little boy's Marlins cap on Friday said, ''This is probably the last day of my life I will sign autographs.''
On Friday, the last day of the exhibition spring training season, Marlins Pitcher Jim Manfred carried around a videotape player to the locker room, stadium, and field, taping images as a keepsake. ''Just in case we don't make it down there [in Miami] for opening day, I'll have it all on tape.''