SBD/November 27, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Marvin Miller, One Of Baseball's Most Influential Figures, Dies At 95

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Miller was instrumental in gaining free agency and salary arbitration for MLB players
MARVIN MILLER, the first MLBPA Exec Dir, died this morning in Manhattan at the age of 95 "after a year-long battle with cancer," according to Bill Madden of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Miller headed the union from '66-84 and won the players "previously-unimaginable gains in salary, working conditions and licensing and pension benefits through hard-nosed collective bargaining." Under Miller's leadership, the "average players' salary went from $10,000 in 1967 to $329,000 by 1984 while the minimum salary increased from $6,000 to $40,000." All of this was due to "two monumental gains for the players which Miller was able to attain through both collective bargaining and the courts -- free agency and salary arbitration." Miller oversaw the "first work stoppage in modern baseball history" in '72, as well as the "first mid-season strike in baseball history" in '81. He negotiated "numerous lucrative licensing and marketing deals that added millions of dollars to the Players Association coffers, in particular his 1981 success in opening up the baseball card industry to competing companies, following a quarter-century monopoly by the Topps Co. which was paying the players a paltry $125 apiece annually for the exclusive rights to their images" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 11/27). MLB.com's Marty Noble notes Miller "remained quite aware of union activities and often was consulted by his former colleagues and quoted by the media at times of collective bargaining distress" (MLB.com, 11/27). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes Miller turned the union "into one of the most powerful in the country." He was "never inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame," but famed broadcaster RED BARBER called him "one of the two or three most important men in baseball history, along with BABE RUTH and JACKIE ROBINSON" (USATODAY.com, 11/27).

PAYING RESPECTS
: Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan wrote on his Twitter account, "Marvin Miller's contributions to baseball cannot be overstated. He was a remarkable visionary, and MLB is where it is today because of him." SportsBusinessNews.com's Howard Bloom wrote, "If you are a professional athlete today, you owe a debt of gratitude today and everyday to Marvin Miller." ESPN's Buster Olney wrote, "Marvin Miller's impact on professional sports -- not just baseball -- cannot be overstated." SportsBusiness Journal's Eric Fisher wrote, "A true giant, his formation of MLBPA into a true players union helped transform sports economics." The N.Y. Post's Joel Sherman wrote, "Marvin Miller is 1 of 5 most important figures in baseball history. His absence from Hall enshrinement is a blight."

DEDICATED TO THE CAUSE: MLB Network’s Peter Gammons noted Miller “was a hard man, a real traditional labor guy who always believed that management was out to get the worker." Gammons: "I think that drove him tremendously.” During all the labor disputes and negotiations, Miller “never wavered, this is our principle (and) we’re not going to change.” Gammons: “Every player today should say, ‘I’d like to thank you very much.’ ... We’re really seeing sort of the impact of Marvin Miller in hockey today because DON FEHR is not giving into a bunch of hockey owners and they’re shocked by it. ... The union hasn’t been broken as they thought.” Gammons: “I don’t think many people could have come in and done what Marvin did ... and he took the heat for the players” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/27). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Laurence Arnold notes Miller's "tumultuous legacy made baseball the big-money industry it is today" and left him "both respected and resented" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 11/27). Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said, "He did a positive thing for the players he’s representing. He outsmarted the owners. He’s a very, very brilliant man" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 11/27).

MISSED IN COOPERSTOWN
: ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said he did not know why Miller is not in the Baseball HOF, but there are a "lot of people in management in baseball who never liked or appreciated or respected Marvin Miller because he was on the other side." He was "such a relentless negotiator and such a ferocious competitor that a lot of people in management think that baseball has been ruined to some degree because of the salaries when obviously that's not the case because the revenues in baseball are up so high now and the salaries just go up with it.” Kurkjian added, “You cannot write the history of baseball without Marvin Miller being right in the middle of it. To me, the Hall of Fame is a museum which chronicles the history of the game, and you can't chronicle the history of baseball without Marvin Miller” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/27). The Denver Post's Troy Renck wrote on Twitter, "Marvin Miller's impact and accomplishments should have put him in Hall of Fame." FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "One of the most important figures in baseball history. And yes, without question, he should be in the Hall of Fame." The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly wrote, "One of baseball's biggest injustices is that he didn't go into the HOF while alive. Incredibly influential." The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore wrote, "He should be in the Hall of Fame. A shame on baseball he didn't get in while still alive." Sporting News' Jesse Spector wrote, "Like Pat Burns in hockey, it's shameful Marvin Miller didn't get into baseball's Hall of Fame while he was alive."
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