MLB Execs, Players Gather To Honor Marvin Miller, Push For HOF Inclusion
The late MARVIN MILLER last night in N.Y. received a memorial celebration from the baseball community that current MLBPA Exec Dir MICHAEL WEINER had sought since Miller's Nov. 27 death. About 450 people, consisting of roughly four dozen current and former MLBers and several MLB execs attended the event. Miller's ongoing, controversial exclusion from the Baseball HOF was a recurring theme. "Putting (former MLB Commissioner and Miller nemesis) BOWIE KUHN in the Hall of Fame and not Marvin is like putting in Wily E. Coyote and not the Road Runner," said former MLBer and "Ball Four" author JIM BOUTON, recalling a similar comment once made by former MLBPA COO GENE ORZA. Miller, who led the union from '66-83, will again be eligible to appear on a hall ballot in December. Miller's successor, and current NHLPA Exec Dir DONALD FEHR, spoke at length about the MLBPA's rise under Miller to become perhaps the strongest and most respected union of any type in America during a historically hostile period toward labor in general. "The reason I think he is remembered as he is, is that the baseball players' association became a symbol of what a union could be if it was run right," Fehr said. HOFer JOE MORGAN said, "Marvin wanted us to know our worth as players. That was the big thing, and coming up, we had been programmed differently." One of the biggest laughs came when Fehr described how the composed Miller signaled his internal moods during various negotiations by the drink he ordered at lunch: a Tom Collins when he was happy, a martini when he was perplexed and Old Grand-Dad bourbon when talks were going poorly (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
FIGHTING PLAQUE: Weiner said that Miller was “a ‘giant’ who had more influence over the game than anybody else in the past 50 years.” In N.Y., Michael O’Keeffe notes Miller was “undefeated in his many battles with the men who ran the game during that time -- and many supporters believe that is why he had been denied a plaque in the Hall of Fame” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/22).
HISTORY LESSON: The AP’s Ronald Blum noted Baseball HOFer REGGIE JACKSON, along with former MLBers KEITH HERNANDEZ, STEVE GARVEY, TED SIZEMORE and DAVID CONE were among the former players "in the audience." MLB was represented by league Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs ROB MANFRED, Senior VP/Scheduling & Club Relations KATY FEENEY and Senior VP/Club Relations PHYLLIS MERHIGE. Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service Dir GEORGE COHEN also attended. HOFer DAVE WINFIELD “addressed the five active players" in the audience: ANDREW BAILEY, BILL BRAY, CRAIG BRESLOW, ADAM OTTAVINO and MICAH OWINGS." Winfield said, “Know the history of the players' association. Know how you got to where you are today” (AP, 1/21).