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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Hall of Fame Case for Marvin Miller

For those wondering why he’s proposed as a candidate:

It is impossible to overstate Miller’s impact on Major League Baseball. While some — including Hall of Fame voters — have long given Miller short shrift (or piled on utter disdain), baseball today cannot be understood without understanding Marvin Miller’s contributions. He was a truly transformative figure who, after Jackie Robinson, did more to correct the excesses and injustices delivered onto players by baseball’s ruling class than anyone.

When Miller took over as the head of the MLBPA in 1966 there was no free agency. Players were told by ownership what they would make the following year and if they didn’t like it, tough. They couldn’t switch teams. They couldn’t do what any other worker can do and shop their services elsewhere. They were stuck thanks to baseball’s reserve clause and the ridiculous Supreme Court decision which exempted baseball and its owners from the antitrust laws.

Miller took all of that on and he won. He started small, negotiating the union’s first collective bargaining agreement with the team owners in 1968, which raised the game’s minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000. In 1970 he got the owners to agree to arbitration for the first time. In 1970 Curt Flood, with Miller’s support and guidance, challenged baseball’s antitrust exemption — and the dreaded reserve clause, which kept players tied to one team against their wishes — in the courts. Flood ultimately lost that case in the landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision. The decision did not, however, blunt Miller’s resolve, and he took his fight to other forums.

In 1974 he exploited a loophole — and an oversight by Oakland Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley — to get Catfish Hunter free agency and baseball’s first $1 million contract.  Up next: the whole enchilada. In 1974, he got Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to play out the season without contracts, placing them in cross-hairs of the reserve clause and giving them standing to fight the provision in arbitration. In 1975 they won, with the Seitz Decision ushering in the age of free agency. Baseball players’ indentured servitude was over.

 

QLE Posted: November 27, 2019 at 09:57 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, marvin miller

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   1. majorflaw Posted: November 28, 2019 at 07:39 AM (#5904326)
“baseball today cannot be understood without understanding Marvin Miller’s contributions..”

That was as true thirty years ago as it is today yet the HoF refused to recognize Miller during his lifetime. Mr. Miller made it quite clear that he opposed and objected to being posthumously enshrined. The HoF will always have to explain why the career leader in hits wasn’t inducted and currently must do the same for the career and season leader in HR. The HoF should similarly have to explain why it was unable to recognize Miller forever; it rejected him during his lifetime and he rejected it after his death. Kindly respect the man’s wishes, recognize and admit that the HoF messed up bigtime by not admitting him during his lifetime and end this and any discussion about “fixing” that error now.
   2. Rusty Priske Posted: November 28, 2019 at 08:51 AM (#5904328)
I absolutely disagree. He should be chosen for the Hall.

Having said THAT, if his family chooses to decline that honour, that would be their choice and should be respected.
   3. bachslunch Posted: November 28, 2019 at 09:02 AM (#5904330)
If memory serves, the Veterans Committees have had several owners on them in past, which is almost a guarantee that Miller won’t get elected. They really should recuse themselves or something.
   4. Rennie's Tenet Posted: November 28, 2019 at 09:42 AM (#5904332)
It should be obvious that if owners recuse themselves, so should MLBPA members.

Three things that should be considered for most off-field contributors: contributions are often group efforts, and credit has to be parceled out; what happened before a person entered the scene is mostly irrelevant; and, outside factors can influence events strongly.
   5. The Duke Posted: November 28, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5904343)
3. Why would today’s owners have it in for Marvin Miller? The math and logic says that miller, while making the players a lot, made the owners even more. Teams are more competitive, quality of the players is better, and the off season free agency makes for a leveler playing field. Maybe the owners from the 70s have a gripe but the new guys have made a fortune
   6. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 28, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5904349)
the new guys have made a fortune


...and would have made even more of a fortune if they could pay Mike Trout $200,000/yr (the top salary in 1973, $1.1m in 2019 dollars) instead of $36,000,000 /yr.
   7. bachslunch Posted: November 28, 2019 at 06:29 PM (#5904411)
@5: it’s possible that some of the current owners inherited their teams from 60s-70s era family members. If so, they won’t be sympathetic to Miller any more than their fathers and grandfathers were.

Miller also made it possible for current players to make far more money than their 60s-70s counterparts, which will eat into their profits more than if the status quo had been maintained. I think it’s safe to say that won’t sit well with today’s owners.

I think the fix is in against Miller, and has been since the Veterans Committee has been including a slew of owners in its membership.
   8. Sunday silence Posted: November 28, 2019 at 06:37 PM (#5904413)
How do primates think MLB's economic system would have evolved without Marvin Miller's help?

Would baseball players still be making like $200,000/year while football and basketball players rake?
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 28, 2019 at 09:08 PM (#5904425)
How do primates think MLB's economic system would have evolved without Marvin Miller's help?

Would baseball players still be making like $200,000/year while football and basketball players rake?


I think the impact Miller was almost certainly de minimus in the long run, as is true with most individuals. Free agency came to every sport, and it was going to come to baseball, whether Miller was there, or not.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 28, 2019 at 09:10 PM (#5904427)
...and would have made even more of a fortune if they could pay Mike Trout $200,000/yr (the top salary in 1973, $1.1m in 2019 dollars) instead of $36,000,000 /yr.

Please, there's no way free agency wouldn't have come to baseball anyway. All the other sports got it without their own Miller-like figure.

The one who should honor Miller are the 1970's free agents, b/c he got them there money sooner than might have happened without him. But today's players would be making the same kind of money if he had never existed.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: November 28, 2019 at 11:40 PM (#5904440)
Please, there's no way free agency wouldn't have come to baseball anyway. All the other sports got it without their own Miller-like figure.


While I agree that FA would have eventually come to the sport with or without Marv, I would guess that FA was hastened in those other sports because of the work of Marvin Miller. Surely NBA and NFL players began to push for greater say over their careers in part because they the effect FA had in baseball.

   12. Sunday silence Posted: November 29, 2019 at 03:03 AM (#5904447)
Please, there's no way free agency wouldn't have come to baseball anyway. All the other sports got it without their own Miller-like figure.


He's not talking about that. I mean Ziggy can speak for himself, but I think it's obvious that there's another way of reading what Z is saying:

One guy is saying "Hey the owners cant be mad about Miller at this point in time, everyone is making lots of money.
Guy 2 responds "Owners/capitalists always want more money, they will always have it in for anyone who represents labor. They want to squeeze every last drop they can.

See? He's not making a statement about when free agency will arrive (your interpretation) he's just saying that Capitalists will always have a built antagonism toward labor/labor leaders no matter what time period we live in.

OK? So maybe he means it your way, but I dont think so....People around here tend to misunderstand what is written. Not usually Snapper but Im just sayin.
   13. Sunday silence Posted: November 29, 2019 at 03:08 AM (#5904448)
Surely NBA and NFL players began to push for greater say over their careers in part because they the effect FA had in baseball.


HOw can we be so sure there was that sort of side effect? Weren't the court decisions liberating all professional sports players at the same time? By decisions in the Curt FLood case, the Messerschmidt case, etc.

Its like nowadays, court rulings are starting to pave the way for collegiate athletes to eventually get paid or get some sort of monetary reward for their efforts. And public opinion seems to be following along. And of course then politicians start latching onto that trend cause there's votes there. And so that's how stuff like that happens in modern society.

So just because there's some lawyer who sees which way the wind is blowing and he gloms onto some college athlete to push his case doesnt necessarily mean he was some great visionary who paved the way for others. Its entirely possible that he was just the right person at the right time/place who happened to latch onto that trend in history.

I dunno of that's the case with Marvin Miller or not, but we really ought to be sure that he made some brilliant decisions or something before we start crowning him as some sort of visionary.
   14. Jay Z Posted: November 29, 2019 at 07:22 PM (#5904498)
@5: it’s possible that some of the current owners inherited their teams from 60s-70s era family members. If so, they won’t be sympathetic to Miller any more than their fathers and grandfathers were.


It's possible? I think we could probably figure it out.

The Steinbrenner family is about it. I can't think of a single ownership group that really dealt with Miller and the 1970s stuff that is still around other than them. They all sold out.

Contrast this with football, which has much more stable ownership.
   15. The Duke Posted: November 29, 2019 at 10:23 PM (#5904510)
My point is that the eco-system is much healthier after Miller than before Miller. And everyone is better off as a result. It sounds counter-intuitive but I’m sure that the players getting their cut has been a huge tonic for the growth of the sport. Same thing happened with labor unions and corporates which again with the recent demise of unions Due to offshoring has created a new imbalance which again causes problems.
   16. Jay Z Posted: November 30, 2019 at 01:13 AM (#5904518)
My point is that the eco-system is much healthier after Miller than before Miller. And everyone is better off as a result. It sounds counter-intuitive but I’m sure that the players getting their cut has been a huge tonic for the growth of the sport. Same thing happened with labor unions and corporates which again with the recent demise of unions Due to offshoring has created a new imbalance which again causes problems.


But football is also a sport, a successful sport. And the owners got to keep their teams. And the players eventually got paid as well.

Do you really think the Bidwells are astute businessmen? Or the Halas family for that matter? They bought into a can't lose business model, for 100 years at least. Those baseball owners are all gone. The Griffiths, the O'Malleys, all of them. None of them could make it.

I don't know that the NFL was making it by playing the players slave wages. The players got their money their too, even with a less effective union.
   17. . Posted: December 01, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5904698)
Surely NBA and NFL players began to push for greater say over their careers in part because they the effect FA had in baseball.


The NBA was ahead of Miller. The Oscar Robertson case held up the merger by like 6-7 years and led to free agency just as quick or quicker as the McNally/Messersmith case. Miller didn't blaze any new ground.
   18. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5905027)
No. Just...no.

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