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Bud Selig’s official statement on the passing of Marvin Miller

Nov 27, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Bud Selig AP AP

The Commissioner’s Office just released the following statement from Bud Selig regarding Marvin Miller’s passing:

“Marvin Miller was a highly accomplished executive and a very influential figure in baseball history.  He made a distinct impact on this sport, which is reflected in the state of the game today, and surely the Major League players of the last half-century have greatly benefited from his contributions.  On behalf of Major League Baseball and the 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Marvin’s family, friends and colleagues.”

That’s nice enough, but contrast it with the warm statement Selig gave about another 95 year-old who recently passed away:

“Lee MacPhail was one of the great executives in Baseball history and a Hall of Famer in every sense, both personally and professionally.  I had great admiration for Lee as American League President, and he was respected and liked by everyone with whom he came in contact. His hallmarks were dignity, common sense and humility. He was not only a remarkable league executive, but was a true Baseball man as is evidenced by his brilliant leadership of the storied New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles franchises.  Lee always put the interests of the sport first and through his love of the game taught all of us to cherish it in every way.  Major League Baseball and all of our Clubs feel a great sense of loss today, and I send my deepest condolences to one of the first families of the national pastime.”

Obviously it’s not a competition and I in no way wish to make some rigorous comparison between Miller and MacPhail as human beings. Apart from a single phone call with Miller a couple of years ago I did not know either of them from Adam. But there’s a definitely chilly feel to the Miller statement, no? And a brevity? Moose Skowron got 55 more words from the commissioner than the guy who freakin’ transformed baseball.

To be fair, one is understandably more likely to say warm things about someone one knows better and with whom one has had more personal interaction like Selig had with MacPhail. And the fact that there is some personal reaction evident in these statements is evidence that guys like Selig put themselves into their work fully and with no small amount of emotion. Which is nothing but admirable in my view. Certainly beats a boilerplate tribute.

But even 30 years after Miller left the scene as active union chief, one gets the impression that Selig — or whoever at Major League Baseball actually wrote the Miller statement — has some hard feelings over years of battle with the MLBPA.  And even if that’s understandable, it’s still fascinating all the same. If, for no other reason, than it makes you realize that even if the wars between the owners and the union feel like ancient history to some of us, it’s not so ancient history to many of the men who still rule this game.

  1. brewcrewfan54 - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    He left out the “And as an owner I hated him” part.

  2. Kleinz 57 - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    I’m reading “Lords of the Realm” right now and Miller was a freakin’ giant for the sport.

    I don’t take the HoF too seriously, but if anyone belongs in it…

  3. willclarkgameface - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Wait. Buddy boy woke up from his daily naps to comment on a guy that he absolutely fucking hated?

    I don’t think its really him. It’s his secretary digging into his pile of pre-made statements for when people die, statements that were made by his henchmen in NYC.

    Fuck you Bud.

    • Old Gator - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      I find myself in agreement with you. I’m going back to sleep and will wake up again and see if I can start the whole day over.

      Groundhogs suck.

  4. kevinleaptrot - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Bud’s actual statement prior to MLB PR and lawyers editing:

    “I SPIT ON HIS GRAVE!”

    • Old Gator - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Spit? No-o-o-o, not quite….

  5. randygnyc - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Brewcrew- no, it’s in there. Just keep looking.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Yeah I kinda saw it, I just wanted to put it more bluntly. The reserve clause is the reason Bud was able to afford to bring baseball back to Milwaukee and Miller is the reason why Bud had to sell. I really like Marvin Miller.

  6. Detroit Michael - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Selig represents the owners. Miller was the greatest nemesis of baseball owners in the game’s entire history. Do we really expect Selig to issue a statement more gracious than what he wrote?

  7. cur68 - Nov 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Bud’s secretary wrote that. Its a hammered out, bland as egg white statement. Given that Miller was instrumental in ending what was little more than indentured servitude, he deserved better. Pity Ole Bud couldn’t put aside his personal feelings for a more fitting tribute.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      Oh, after working for Bud, assuredly without a contract, I’m willing to bet that secretary would’ve written a much warmer tribute than that. More likely, some poor PR hack had to polish up the original version: “The owners are pleased to announce the passing of the SOB who cost us untold millions.”

      • cur68 - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Yeah, prolly that’s it.

        Happy Trails Marvin Miller.

  8. raysfan1 - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Miller should have been in the HoF before now. Live him or hate him, his efforts completely changed the business of MLB. RIP.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      Agree completely. When Bud goes into the Hall of Fame (and he will), and Marvin Miller isn’t there already, it will be a travesty.

      We fans like to whine about players’ salaries, with little or no understanding of how playters were treated through the 1960s. As cur notes, “little more than indentured servitude.”

      • Detroit Michael - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:02 PM

        It already is ridiculous that Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame but not Miller.

  9. natstowngreg - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    It’s not about the length. It’s about what Bud did not say — that speaks volumes about the owner-player relationship over the past 40+ years.

    Bud said, Marvin Miller was good for the players. Bud said, Marvin Miller had an impact on the game, and helped make it what it is today.

    Bud did not say, Marvin Miller’s impact was for the good of the game. Compare that to the statement on Lee McPhail, and the praise for his commitment to the game.

    Try as I might to think of this as unintentional, or just sloppy wordsmithing, it’s hard to see the statement as one last petty shot at Marvin Miller. Sad.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Correction. “It’s hard to see the statement as ANYTHING OTHER THAN one last petty shot at Marvin Miller.”

  10. henryd3rd - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    RIP!!! The man deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame. Nuff said!

  11. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I’m just curious as to what everyone thinks Miller did that was so good for the “game” of baseball? Sure, he was a wonderful advocate for fairness to the players. And he was a giant for the MLBPA and he got the players free agency and he helped make the game more fair for the players.

    But my question relates to a line from Craig’s previous posting…after 5 paragraphs about all the wonderful things Miller did for the players and then he writes “But whether he ever makes the Hall of Fame or not, baseball would not be what it is today, both as a business and a game, without Marvin Miller.”

    I’m curious as to why what Miller did helped the business of baseball? Sure, free agency is fair no question about it. Calling the lack of free agency “indentured servitude” is a little overboard, since nobody forced them to play baseball, but whatever. He helped the players out of their “indentured servitude”.

    Now put yourself in the shoes of the owners. How did Miller help their businesses? Does free agency make the game better? Does it make it more profitable for the owners to bid for a player instead of drafting a guy and having him on your team forever at your price?

    Look, I am glad the players got free agency. I am glad baseball is more fair today than it was before Miller. But we also should put ourselves in the shoes of the owners and realize that this guy sucked for us and our business and took away our control of the players. Why should we, as owners, like or give a damn about this guy being in the hall of fame?

    Too many people around here, including Craig, think that EVERYBODY thinks like them. This is a case where there is a difference between how the owners think about a guy and how the rest of the world think about a guy. The owners hated this guy. Why would they change now?

    • historiophiliac - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Yes, how dare Miller actually force them into capitalism. See, no one really likes the free market.

    • tmohr - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Just to give one example – Miller helped usher in free agency, which allowed more teams to be competitive, which in turn increased the health of the game.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:02 PM

        That’s not really factual, just your opinion. How did free agency increase the health of the game? It raised salaries and it crippled ball clubs who didn’t want to or couldn’t spend the money. Who was the first owner to take advantage of free agency in a big way? George, who bought Reggie and Goose and made it to three straight world series, winning two.

        Again, free agency was great…for the players. It didn’t help all of the owners one bit no matter what kind of revisionist history you want to practice.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        Chris, you are confusing “businesses” with “business.” The baseball industry does not belong to the owners of the teams. Players, agents, equipment manufacturers, broadcasters — hell, even mascots — are part of the business of baseball. The teams are just part of that.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 27, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        Now they do you are correct. But back in the early days, the business of baseball WAS the owners. Miller came in and took the power from the owners and spread it out throughout the “industry”. Do you think there was a “baseball industry” in 1932? I doubt it. And I don’t know why you are arguing with me since I agree with everything you are saying. All I am doing, which I know this is tough to do for the most part here on HBT, is putting myself into the shoes of the owners. And if I were the owner of the Rays for instance, I would be far happier with no free agency so that my excellent drafting of players would guarantee that they would be under my control for their careers.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      MLB franchises are very tight-lipped about how much money they take in. There are a couple data points I can give you, however, that does tend to indicate that the changes in baseball over the past 50 years have been very good for the owners’ pockets–and a big part of that is free agency. (1) The lowest fan attendance for any team, my beloved Rays, was 1.55 million this year. In 1965, the year before Marvin Miller became the head of the MLBPA, that would have been good for 4th highest attendance in MLB behind only the Dodgers, Mets, and Astros. (2) You can also look up franchise values, for example, the expansion Washington Senators cost $9.4 million in 1960. That is $26.8 million in today’s money, adjusting for 52 years of inflation. That franchise, of course, is now the Texas Rangers, sold 2 years ago for $570 million. It doesn’t take a genius to see just how well the owners are doing.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:37 AM

        Oops, caught a mistake–hit 1980 by accident for the Senators’ cost equivalence instead of 1960… $9.4 million in 1960 would be $73.5 million today. Doesn’t change my point though.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:20 AM

        But how can you say that the owners are doing better because of free agency? Or give me something specific that Miller did to make the sport better for owners. Again, I’m not denying that everything you said is true. The owners are doing better. But I attribute that just to the sport growing in popularity, not free agency or the other things that Miller helped to do to remove the power from the owners. Do you think that the TV stations would not give those contracts to a sport that doesn’t have free agency?

      • raysfan1 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:42 AM

        I think that free agency has created at least the perception that teams can retool or become competitive quickly. Fans get excited about new big name players coming to their teams. If the reserve clause system were still in place, I’m sure baseball would have grown and I know I’d still watch, but I think it would not grown as much. Like all complex issues, there are a lot more factors than just free agency and the factors all intertwine. For example, free agent signings affect marketing and in turn advertising income, increased interest from marketing and successful advertising sales can in turn affect TV deal. As such, my stance is free agency is one factor that has helped make the game what it is today.

  12. jm91rs - Nov 27, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Why does everyone think Bud should be required to say nice things about a guy he no doubt butted heads with many times? He released a statement, because as the head of baseball he should do so, but he has no requirement to act like the guy was his friend.

    You want to champion Miller for the Hall, I’m all for that, but I don’t think you have to get on Bud for not crying over the fact that he passed.

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