Every wonder why the name and likesness of former Red Sox farmhand / position player-turned-reliever Ron Mahay (above) cannot be found in one of the popular video games for the Wii, Xbox or PS3? Me neither, but as Kontaku’s Owen Good explains, Mahay and former other active major leaguers who participated as replacement players during the 2004 work stoppage, are banished from virtual competition by virtue of their non-membership in baseball’s players union.
Brendan Donnelly, Matt Herges, Ron Mahay, Jamie Walker and Kevin Milar, one of the emotional leaders of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, known for his “cowboy up” comment in 2003 that became a rallying cry. All of them are on their real-life teams under different names, uniform numbers and player images in any video game.
Could 2K or SCEA cut individual deals with Donnelly, Millar and the other three to get their authentic names and likeness in a game? I’m not sure what the contracts say, whether they are specifically prohibited from doing so or if there’s some other legal proscription at work here. But even if they could, it simply wouldn’t be worth it to get five journeymen players into a game, considering the antagonism that would cause to an absolutely essential licensing partner in a realistic sports simulation.
That said, the continued banishment of these players reflects poorly on the baseball players’ union. When Donnelly won a World Series ring with the Angels and Millar claimed his with the Red Sox, neither were allowed to appear on licensed memorabilia commemorating the titles. That kind of KGBing of history makes the MLBPA look petty and its posture needlessly punitive.