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Marvin Miller: CEO Pay is way worse than ballplayer pay, Commissioner Landis was in the KKK

Apr 25, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller — and a bunch of other heavy hitters such as Michael Weiner and Don Fehr — appeared at an NYU law school forum last night.  Miller, at 95, still throws fastballs. And some serious chin music at the long-dead Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Noting that the public still seems to get bent out of shape about how much money baseball players make, Miller opined that the system which leads to big paychecks for ballplayers is far more fair than the one that leads to big paychecks for CEOs:

“Let’s take chief executive officers of important corporations, or the stock exchange or Wall Street firms,” he said. “The typical way that compensation is set is for the board of directors, most of whom if not all of whom have been appointed directly by the CEO, decide what the CEO’s salary should be, or they have a committee, a compensation committee composed of board members …

In contrast:

“There always has been and is a rule that no contract of a player is valid unless it is signed by the franchise owner or somebody designated by the franchise owner in his place,” Miller said. “In other words, no salary is put on paper and becomes valid until the man who is going to pay for it, the owner of the franchise, has signed the contract. A better check and balance you can’t find anywhere.”

Miller went on to note quite correctly that free agency has corresponded quite nicely with exploding franchise values and team revenues and said “I never before saw such a win-win situation my life.”  And he’s right. About all of that stuff.

He was on less firm footing when he started going farther back in history, defending the Chicago Black Sox players who were banned from the game, saying that they shouldn’t have been since their criminal cases were thrown out.  On this I would certainly beg to differ.   History is also not on Miller’s side when he said this about Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis:

Of Landis, he said “later it was felt (he) was clearly a member of the Ku Klux Klan.” Jackie Robinson didn’t break baseball’s color barrier until 1947, 2 1/2 years after Landis left baseball … “I don’t know that he wasn’t,” Miller said after his speech. “The rumors were that he was.”

I don’t think there’s any question that Landis was one of the driving — as well as obstructing — forces behind keeping baseball segregated during his tenure. And, depending on which accounts you believe, the man may have very well been quite the racist, even compared to others of his time. But there’s a big difference between that and being a member of the KKK, for which there is no credible evidence I know of.

Landis has been dead for 68 years so I doubt he cares, but dude, Marvin, seriously.

  1. randygnyc - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    well, if he was a member of the KKK, that clearly identifies Landis as a Democrat, as they were the ones who created that legacy. The democrats were also on the forefront fighting against the civil rights movement.

    • gerryb323 - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      Not to get off on a political tangent, but you realize the ideology of the parties shifted in the 1940s and 50s, basically flipping the social liberalism aspects, right? Yes, before FDR the dems were the conservatives and the GOP liberal. Since then, not so much. Just checking.

      • scastro87 - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM

        You might want to check your electoral history. The South was solid democrat in Presidential elections through 1976 with Jimmy Carter’s election, and local politics Democrats lasted even longer in power in the South. A higher percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so after your 1940s and 50s timeline.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:03 AM

        I think it’s great that there was a time that members of both parties supported civil rights.

        But let’s be clear: the Democrats who opposed civil rights — people like Strom Thurmond, to take a prominent example (or which there are literally millions more) — found that they no longer had a home in the Democratic Party, starting in the 1940s when Truman bravely desegregated the military. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that Richard Nixon’s campaign exploited these divisions in a way that he didn’t in the early 60s to move white Democrats into the Republican Party in a more permanent way.

      • shawndc04 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        >>The South was solid democrat in Presidential elections through 1976 with Jimmy Carter’s election,<<
        You need to check your history. Goldwater carried SC, GA, ALA, MISS, and LA in '64. Wallace and Nixon carried the South in '68. McGovern carried only MA in 1972.

      • scastro87 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        Ok except for the 1964 election. McGovern lost everywhere so that’s hard to say that’s when Republicans started carrying the South. 1976 went back to Demcrats. 1980 Reagan won most states, but did lost Georgia (yes, Carter’s homestate). That’s just talking about Presidential elections. Democrats held power in state and local governments for much longer. That’s what will happen when a part controls a region for a century.

      • aleskel - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        It wasn’t exactly a shift in ideology that led to the Dixiecrats fleeing to the Republicans over Civil Rights, but a breakdown of the centrist consensus that led to different coalition-building methods. Before the 60s, there was a good amount of cross-geographic alliances within each party – northern New Deal liberals could ally with southern segregationist populists (who were loyal to the Democratic party as a legacy of Republican-led Reconstruction) and northern conservative moderates (the Rockefellers) could ally with mostly sun-belt libertarians (the Goldwaters).

        This was because there was not much disagreement between the two parties on the role of government. But in the 60s, with both the Great Society and Civil Rights, that consensus fractured, and fight became over ideology. So now the parties needed to find new ways to build coalitions, not through traditional affiliations but through agreements in ideology (with a fair amount of politically convenient maneuvering, such as Nixon’s winning over the working class white vote by co-opting liberal economic positions).

      • gerryb323 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        scastro, what 18th street said…

        it takes a little while for the shifts to happen, for the southern blacks to realize the reps were abandoning them, etc.

        i suppose i should have said the shift began in the 40s…

        my aim was to point out that randy’s comment was flawed in seemingly arguing that the dems were against civil rights and implying the dems of today come from that ideology.

        yes, it wasn’t til the 60’s where the dichotomy truly appeared and JFK realized millions of black voters would be just as likely to support him and nixon, quite smartly, countered with the “southern strategy”

        so much for not getting off on a politcal tangent.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      History is so much more complicated and interesting that these simple dichotomies (my side: good; your side: bad). There have been heroes and villains who lived in the same body, people who were progressive in their own time whose views, today, would be considered conservative.

      I spent about 10 seconds on Landis’s wikipedia page, and learned all sorts of interesting things about him. To say that he was a racist, therefore he must have been a member of [the party I don’t vote for] is intellectually lazy.

      Let’s toast those whose opinions evolved with the times, and have hope that all of us can do so.

    • aceshigh11 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      Thank you for confirming my initial impression of you as being a vile, ignorant cretin.

      Southern Democrats were undoubtedly the party of racism prior to the 1960s. Do you think it’s some strange coincidence that the South has now turned overwhelmingly Republican since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act into law?

      The last two RNC chairmen have apologized for the GOP’s racist “Southern Strategy” which started under Nixon in ’68 and continues to this day…I guess in your fevered, paranoid world, they were stealth Democrats, eh?

      Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a speech on state’s rights, the very town where three civil rights workers were murdered.

      It was clear to anyone with a functioning brain stem who that dog whistle was meant for.

      Here’s a quote from Lee Atwater in 1981 (Karl Rove’s mentor), who worked for Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush:

      You start out in 1954 by saying, “N*gger, n*gger, n*gger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*gger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

      And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*gger, n*gger”.

      Wow, what a humanitarian he was. Shame he died of brain cancer and repented on his deathbed…but yeah, you’re right. The Democrats are clearly the racist party.

      Funny how whenever Republicans want to discuss race, they have to go back to Lincoln in the 1860s, or Eisenhower in the ’50s. They never want to discuss the last 40 years. There’s a reason for that.

    • mrfloydpink - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      As a general comment, it should be observed that being in the KKK in 1920 and being in the KKK today are pretty different things. The Klan of today is a fringe group of radicals with views on race that are far out of the norm. The Klan of the 1920s was larger, much more mainstream, less racist, and played an important role in local and state level politics. That is not to say they weren’t racist at all, but they were not really much different from the general public in their outlook on that issue. Often, joining the Klan was something of a prerequisite if you wanted to secure a political office, like a judgeship. So, suggesting the Landis was in the Klan is not nearly as inflammatory as it might seem.

      As a specific response to randygnyc, your statement is nonsensical and ignorant. Whose signature do you think is on the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Hint: His name rhymes with Jindon Lohnson and he was a Democrat. As others have ably pointed out here, the US was in the middle of a partisan shift in the 1960s, and it is neither accurate nor meaningful to make blanket statements about which party’s members supported Civil Rights and which party’s members did not.

  2. hasbeen5 - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Pedro Gomez never denied being in the KKK.

    • heyblueyoustink - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Damn, beat me to it.

    • mgv38 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      You notice how Pedro Gomez has never denied being Judge Landis’s great-grandson?

    • deathmonkey41 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Pedro Gomez and David Duke have never been in the same room together either…coincidence?

  3. mybrunoblog - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Marvin MIller remains a polarizing figure in the baseball landscape. That being said the man belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unforttunatly he won’t see that honor bestowed upon him while he is still alive.

    • thomas2727 - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      I agree the Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame. He probably should have been voted in 20 years ago. It seems there is some conspiracy to keep him out. Maybe there is a group of people that would like to keep him out? I could not imagine why?

    • largebill - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      Miller may belong in a labor lawyer museum or Hall of Fame if there is one. It is silly to argue that he belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame.

      • thomas2727 - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        Miller missed being elected by 1 vote by the Veterans Committee in 2011. So I would say that shoots down your “silly to argue” statement.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        Tom Yawkey is in the Hall of Fame. Now that’s silly.

  4. charbycharlie - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    There is NO DOUBT that Judge Landis was a racist.

  5. esracerx46 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Miller is all over the map as far as his political views when it comes to money. I think he’s losing it

    • mgv38 - Apr 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      I think Miller’s comments need to be taken in the context that he was speaking at a promininent law school. He wasn’t “defending” the Black Sox because he thinks they didn’t conspire to throw the Series; he was saying that Landis overstepped his authority in the granstanding, “I’m going to get overturned by a higher court later but look at me, look at me” way he often did from the bench. Miller is saying that since their criminal cases were thrown out, the Judge erred in punishng the palyers. Miller might also be using Landis as a cautionary tale of “judicial activism.” Not that we have that problem today . . . .

  6. Jason @ IIATMS - Apr 25, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Gotta say, the whole “I’m not sure but I’m passing this along just because (and the guy ain’t around to defend himself)” thing smacks of Murray Chass.

    Other than that, I loves me some Marvin Miller. Chass, not so much.

  7. thecrazyasianinseccountry - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Wow!! Was searching for baseball talks and got a shit load of misleading and over the top none sense.
    Check the person posting before you jump when told to…with that said, allow me to be the Unbiased historian here…
    After the Civil War had ended, … The North must somehow make the south comfortable in joining the union again. The Greatest Man alive at this time, was Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln wants the Southern delegates back in Washington, and peacefully work together and help bring a quick and easy reunifications of the Union.
    John Wilkes Booth, a true Southern sympathizer, he believes that if Lincoln were to die the South will rise again. Instead of helping the people he loves. The night Booth shot Lincoln dead, very same night, hope and justice, for the South to reenter quickly, and peacefully, with dignity has all but disappear.
    Now Andrew Johnson is President, and he is no match for the Radical Republican Senator. They want the southern states to begged for their reunification, The Radical want the Southern stated to pay for all the war expense. “Radical Reconstruction”… Blah blah blah blah so finally, the radical Republican realizes they’re in way over their heads and needed a way out without loosing face. So used a small insignificant riot on Canal, “Canal Street Riot”…
    Fall of radical reconstruction and rise the Military Reconstruction Plan….curfews was handed out, and specially in Louisiana, many rights were taken away from white male. And he was an ex-soldier of the confederate, he lost all rights. Why is this important, it’s important because I forgot to mention that the radical congress a couple years earlier, they had passed three new amendments 13th, 14th, and 15th…, amendment 13 is the easiest to understand, it abolished slavery all fifty states and including all U S territories. The 14th amendment is quite complicated, basically this gave the newly “FMC” free men of color the right of suffrage; this right was extended to white male, none property owner, over the age of 21… (there are lots more to 14th amendment ).. Because the 14th amendment was so complicated, 15th amendment was passed. Basically saying whatever is written and granted in the 14 th Am, the 15 th is there to reinforce it. As complicated as it may be, we see it being exercise all the time during elections years…
    Because of these three amendments; the Klu Klux Klan were born, about a year after The Knight Riders of Caledonia.
    … It was during the Military Reconstruction years was when good law abiding citizens begin to see their privileges taken away from you because you have served with the Confederate army during theCW.
    Most importantly these three amendment discriminated against a group of people that are the backbone to this great society. … Women!!!
    During the Louisiana Governor’s election, the women born and raised here all her life have no voice. The land owners and business, like the women, loved this State and what needs to be done, but they too are voiceless. Then who is the voice for the south? The US Army, which has a post throughout the southern states, they can vote. So can the leeches of the north, Scalliraggs and Carpet Baggers, they are the parasites that destroyed economics for their person gain, some straight theft!!! These were the people electing our representatives. And the FMC also voted for the first time, problem with the “free men of color” was .. They were pretty much illiterate. Ninety nine percent of them did not even know how to sigh their name, much less read the names of candidates, while the FMC are voting, a benevolence soldier from the north, points his figure at a name and help them trace or make an “X” for their name.
    By now the tea pot is screaming, changes are coming, peacefully or forcefully, the lines are drawn.
    The radical Democratic party of the South just want a piece of dignity!
    If they are not allowed to vote, then nor can the FMC, soldiers, all Caucasian foreigners, and Jews (especially) were targets of KKK. The southern radical democrats had enough with radical republicans and their military, they will not be pushed any more! Kidnapped, raps, and murders are their tactic of fears, daring anyone to vote bc they will face the consequences.
    Louisiana under Governor Kellog, tries to fight the social unrest and bring down the secret societies, so he formed, in New Orleans a crime fighting force, his recuits are bouncers, thugs, and rest of the slugs of N’leans. …. His plan, which is United States plan, has fell misserablly. They didn’t stop, they started most of the crime. And more innocence lives died in their hands than those of secret societies… What we learn from this long drawn out text?
    First: thecrazyasianinseccountry IS CRAZY and apparently bored out his mind.
    Second : radicals + radicals = RIPS
    Only reason a person changed their radical ideologies, was because they were forced to change.
    “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”… JJ Rouseau

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