Bill Giles’ proposed that “teams from corresponding divisions of the two leagues would play a three-or-four-game series, with home fields alternating each year” but still needed the approval of the owners and the players association (Lord, 137). With the 1996 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players agreed to Interleague play in both the 1997 and 1998 seasons but used those years as a trial period to decide if Interleague play was something they would like to continue with further into the future (Lord, 137).
The case for interleague play was strong and backed by support from all different ends of the spectrum. Financially, the players, owners, and the game would benefit from the revenue increases (Lord, 137). From an entertainment supported standpoint, implementing interleague play was necessary. Fans wanted to see the “Fan Favorite Players” from both the National League teams and the American League teams posted head-to-head against each other on the same field (Lord, 137). Not only would implementing interleague play allow baseball to create new rivalries of interest, but it would also allow fans in all cities to see players from different parts of the nation (Lord, 138). Many doubts arose about how popular games between teams of different leagues but the same city would be. However, this excited the fans even more (Paul, 13). The original goals and intentions for Interleague play differed from the actual outcomes and many doubts were raised over the 1990’s, but Interleague Play ended up being a success for Baseball.
The 1996 Collective Bargaining Agreement was the start of Baseball’s strides toward Interleague Play and was a milestone moment for Baseball as the American League and the National League had only ever met on the field at the All-Star game and the World Series. The owners had given their approval and the players were in agreement about the 1997 and 1998 trial seasons (Lord, 139). A plan of fifteen interleague games was set for each team, with the exception of the National League West and American League West teams (Lord, 139). With the intent of not having interleague games played all season long, Baseball created two interleague play blocks (Lord, 139). This plan and implementation resulted in major success for Baseball. The first Interleague game was held on June 12, 1997 when the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants (MLB). Fan interest was at an all time high and television ratings had skyrocketed just within the first year of Interleague play and the overall attendance increase by 18% to 33,407 fans (Lord, 139).
As Interleague developed, certain obstacles arose causing continuous conflicting discussions between the National League and the American League: specifically, the issue of the Designated Hitter. The American League had been using designated hitters since 1973. The issue was brought to the attention of the National League owners in 1980, but ended with a decision against the use of...