Nov 27, 2012, 10:30 AM EST
Marvin Miller, the legendary leader of the Major League Baseball Player’s Association, has died at age 95. No word on the exact cause of death, but he had been ill for some time.
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.
In all Miller led the union through three work stoppages: two short ones — 1972 and in spring training 1980 — and then the long, season-altering strike in 1981. In all three stoppages, the union prevailed. Overall during his tenure the average players’ salary rose from $19,000 to $241,000 a year and their working conditions improved dramatically. It is no understatement to say that Miller turned the MLBPA into the most effective and successful labor union in the United States. Not just in sports: in the entire United States.
Miller, however, paid a cost for these victories, being snubbed repeatedly in Hall of Fame voting. Baseball’s executives — who played a part in his voting — resented him. Some players on the Veteran’s Committee who came before the era of free agency did as well. Miller never helped his own case, of course — he was at terms feisty, abrasive and mostly dismissive of the Hall of Fame and his own candidacy for it — but the fact remains that his exclusion is a travesty. This is especially true given that so many executives and owners who did so much to harm players’ well-being through greed, racism and other vile impulses have been welcomed in to Cooperstown with open arms.
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. Indeed, you can count the people who have made as great or greater a contribution than Miller to the context in which the game is played on one hand. In this regard his legacy is inviolate.
RIP Marvin Miller. The game will never see his like again.
Dec 6, 2013, 3:42 PM EST
Two seasons into a four-year, $46 million contract the Phillies are trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Papelbon has been very good for the Phillies with a 2.67 ERA that’s not far off from his 2.33 ERA for the Red Sox, but his strikeout rate and average fastball velocity both…
Dec 6, 2013, 2:29 PM EST
Here’s the rundown of where this winter’s top 150 free agents are landing, continuously updated throughout the offseason. Re-signings are posted in red, while players signing with new teams are in blue. Stars denote players who received qualifying offers and thus will cost their new team a draft pick if they sign elsewhere. (Non-tenders have…
Dec 6, 2013, 1:50 PM EST
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Marlins are close to signing first baseman/corner outfielder Garrett Jones, who was let go by the Pirates last week. Jones lost his job to Justin Morneau down the stretch and the Pirates didn’t want to pay him around $5 million via arbitration. Why the Marlins want him is…
Dec 6, 2013, 1:23 PM EST
Now that the Mariners have signed Robinson Cano for $240 million there’s tons of speculation about their next big move, since the consensus is that Seattle has significant payroll space left to spend and remains aggressive on a number of trade and free agent fronts. Making a run at David Price would be another huge splash,…
Dec 6, 2013, 12:36 PM EST
The Rangers nearly traded for J.P. Arencibia before he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays. Now they have him anyway, signing him to a one-year deal, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Arencibia, who turns 28 next month, will battle Geovany Soto for playing time in Texas. He spent the last three…
Dec 6, 2013, 12:14 PM EST
No, there’s very little chance that Robinson Cano will resemble a $24 million player in 2023. But at least he’s better than that now. In a world in which Jacoby Ellsbury is worth $22 million annually and middle-rotation starters get $10 million-$13 million per year, it’s hardly unreasonable to value Cano as a $30 million…
Dec 6, 2013, 11:48 AM EST
After going 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA for the Cubs and Orioles last season, Scott Feldman has landed a fat three-year, $30 million contract from the Astros, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. Feldman had similar peripherals in 2012 with the Rangers, but since it resulted in a 5.09 ERA, his best offer was a one-year,…
Dec 6, 2013, 11:48 AM EST
In a big move that will nonetheless get almost zero attention among New York sports fans today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets have signed former Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says it’s worth $60 million. Granderson missed more than 100 games with…
Dec 6, 2013, 11:04 AM EST
As of this morning the New York Daily News was reporting that the Mariners were no longer negotiating with Robinson Cano because of Jay Z’s attempts to raise the second baseman’s price tag at the last minute. As of right now–and for the next 10 seasons–Cano is a Seattle Mariner. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes…
Dec 6, 2013, 10:30 AM EST
For all the drama being reported this morning about Robinson Cano‘s talks with the Mariners falling apart over Jay Z’s negotiating tactics–and multiple well-respected reporters more or less confirming the story–Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com now says the talks are “still alive.” Who knows what exactly that means at this point, but if nothing else the…
Dec 6, 2013, 10:10 AM EST
UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post says it’s a done deal: One year, $16 million with some bonuses for innings pitched. ========== Yesterday general manager Brian Cashman seemed optimistic about Hiroki Kuroda ultimately deciding to return to the Yankees and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the two sides are close to…
Dec 6, 2013, 9:35 AM EST
Ryan Webb was non-tendered because the Marlins weren’t willing to pay him around $1.5 million despite a very good 2013 season and now Jonah Keri of Grantland reports that he’ll be getting more money elsewhere. According to Keri the right-handed reliever has agreed to a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Orioles, who’re looking for…
Dec 6, 2013, 8:55 AM EST
Just when it looked like Robinson Cano was ready to say goodbye to the Yankees and sign a massive long-term contract with the Mariners talks have broken down and Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that “Cano’s chances of landing in Seattle have apparently ended on a sour note.” According to Feinsand…
Dec 6, 2013, 7:57 AM EST
It was reported Wednesday that the Cubs intend to listen to offers on right-hander Jeff Samardzija during next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but they haven’t given up all hope in retaining him for the long-term. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago was told by a source that the Cubs have offered Samardzija…
Dec 6, 2013, 12:13 AM EST
The Rangers are zeroing in on catching help on the heels of A.J. Pierzynski leaving Texas for a one-year deal with the World Series champion Red Sox. While Kurt Suzuki was mentioned as a possibility earlier this week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers and J.P. Arencibia are “progressing” toward a deal. Arencibia…
Dec 5, 2013, 11:15 PM EST
The Legend of Sam Fuld, it appears, will live on. Fuld was non-tendered by the Rays earlier this week, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the 32-year-old outfielder has received “lots of interest” since hitting free agency. He’s only been on the market for a couple of days and is still…
Dec 5, 2013, 10:40 PM EST
Last we heard, free agent second baseman Robinson Cano was reportedly on a private plane to Seattle to meet with the Mariners, who are prepared to offer him $225 million over the course of a nine-year contract. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been pretty firm about how high they are willing to go in negotiations. And as…
Dec 5, 2013, 9:50 PM EST
According to the Associated Press, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield has joined the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) as a special assistant to new executive director Tony Clark. Clark, who played 15 seasons in the majors, was officially appointed to the position of executive director this week following the death of Michael Weiner last…
Dec 5, 2013, 9:41 PM EST
UPDATE: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Furcal will get $3 million plus incentives. 10:02 p.m. ET: Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel hears that Furcal will receive $3.5 million on the one-year deal in additional to playing time incentives. 9:41 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins…
Dec 5, 2013, 9:02 PM EST
We heard earlier this week that free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran had a three-year, $48 million offer in hand from an unidentified team. Most assumed that it came from the Royals, as they have been the hottest team on him recently, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that no such offer was made. Sources: #Royals…
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