By Ken Reed
He gave players freedom and made the game of baseball better for all stakeholders.
Marvin Miller, the former players union head who negotiated the right to free agency for players, as well as salary and grievance arbitration opportunities, was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Sunday by the veterans committee.
“These changes resulted in a vastly more competitive game, fan interest, and increased wealth for all, including the owners of baseball clubs,” said Miller’s son Peter in 2013 .
“Although he enjoyed the recognition, my father did what he did not for fame and glory, but for justice and for equitable labor-management relations. To treat that as something of lesser value than personal fame is really to dishonor him and the players.”
Miller, who died in 2012 at age 95, had previously fallen short of the needed votes to enter the Hall on numerous occasions because baseball owners and executives on the voting committees remained bitter about his negotiation success on behalf of Major League players.
It’s shameful that Miller will enter the Hall 12 years after former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, whom Miller routinely bested during labor negotiations and work stoppages.
The indisputable fact is Marvin Miller is the person most responsible for helping baseball players earn their fair share of baseball revenues, while also giving them the opportunity to ply their craft where they want to via the free agency system.
“You know, Rusty Staub once said before he died that every player should be forced, before they sign a contract, to sign a thank-you note to Marvin Miller,” said Gene Orza, Miller’s longtime friend and colleague at the players’ union. “All players (owe a debt of gratitude for) all the money spent on players. That’s part of the legacy that all the players owe to Marvin.”
And though Miller asked before he died to no longer be considered for the Hall, calling the process “a farce,” it’s great to know that he will soon be in the Hall of Fame. Miller will be enshrined on July 26, 2020.
Baseball will become a better institution on that day.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report