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George Steinbrenner Newsbeat

Friday, November 08, 2013

Posnanski: The Finalists: Miller and Steinbrenner

“Cumberland”!  So formal!

Marvin Miller…

Comparable Hall of Famer: Bowie Kuhn, if by “comparable” you actually mean, “person who the candidate destroyed every single time they competed for anything.” As has been written before, putting Bowie Kuhn in the Hall of Fame but not Marvin Miller is like putting in Wile E. Coyote but not the Road Runner.

George Steinbrenner…

Comparable Hall of Famer: Best I can tell, there are eight men in the Hall of Fame primarily for being baseball owners — and they’re not an especially accomplished group. Bill Veeck certainly advanced the game in his own way. Barney Dreyfuss, in addition to owning the Pittsburgh Pirates, helped bring together the American and National Leagues. J.L. Wilkinson, owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, was a pioneer in many ways, including his near-obsession with introducing night baseball. Anyway, none of them are really like Steinbrenner. The closest might be Cumberland Posey, who owned the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues and would go to pretty severe extremes to build great baseball teams.

Hall of Fame executives are a mixed bag. People often ask: Who would you kick out of the Hall of Fame? I know they are talking about players and, sure, there are a bunch of players I could name. But there is absolutely no doubt that if I could boot people out of the Hall, I would start with Tom Yawkey and Bowie Kuhn and work my way down. It is an embarrassment that Tom Yawkey is in the Hall of Fame. Yawkey owned the Boston Red Sox for 44 years, and the Red Sox won exactly zero World Series championships under his leadership. They were the last team in baseball to have a black player. Jackie Robinson called him “one of the most bigoted guys in baseball,” and that was a pretty wide-ranging group in the 1940s and 1950s. If there was something like a Bizarro Baseball Hall of Fame, Tom Yawkey should be a charter member.

And Kuhn? His election is not as insulting as Yawkey but … why?...

Should owners or executives be inducted into the Hall of Fame at all? I have heard good arguments from people that they should not. They say: Put up exhibits detailing their contributions. But keep the Hall of Fame plaque room itself for people on the field. They say it muddies things up to have Tom Yawkey’s plaque next to Al Kaline’s. I can see that argument.

But there’s also the reality: The Hall of Fame DOES elect owners and executives and pioneers. Candy Cummings is in the Hall of Fame for maybe inventing the curveball, which he probably did not do. The Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown because of the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball there. Shoeless Joe Jackson hits right-handed in “Field of Dreams.” Maybe these things shouldn’t be. But they are.

and with that in mind, with the Hall of Fame filled with executives who influenced the game, there is a strong argument for Steinbrenner, and there is simply no viable argument against Marvin Miller. Steinbrenner certainly hurt the game at times in his long career, but if we are talking about owners who influenced Major League Baseball, he’s in the front row of the photograph. Should someone who was suspended from baseball for any period of time get inducted into the Hall of Fame? I say yes, if the balance of his career is Hall of Fame worthy. That’s why I’m very much pro Pete Rose for the Hall of Fame too.

As for Marvin Miller, it’s all been said before: It’s an embarrassment that Miller was not inducted while he was alive. It was, I believe, a leftover scar from the labor wars. He still inspires strong feelings from both sides now. I know this for sure; If you have a Hall of Fame with Tom Yawkey and Bowie Kuhn inside and Marvin Miller out … it’s better to be out.


 

 

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