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Don Fehr, Tony Clark issue statements critical of the Hall of Fame vote

Dec 9, 2013, 12:04 PM EDT

You won’t be shocked to hear that baseball’s union leaders, past and present, issued statements late this morning condemning the Veteran’s Committee for not electing Marvin Miller. First up, current MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark:

“Words cannot adequately describe the level of disappointment and disbelief I felt when learning that once again the Hall of Fame has chosen to ignore Marvin Miller and his unparalleled contributions to the growth and prosperity of Major League Baseball. Over the past 50 years, no individual has come close to matching Marvin’s impact on the sport. He proved to all involved in Major League Baseball, and to outside observers, that a healthy collective bargaining environment would benefit all the game’s stakeholders. Today, players, owners, front office personnel, fans and the media owe Marvin a debt of gratitude. Despite the election results, Marvin’s legacy remains intact, and will only grow stronger, while the credibility of the Hall of Fame continues to suffer.”

And Miller’s successor Donald Fehr:

In the first half of the 20th Century, no single person was more important to Baseball than was Jackie Robinson.  In the second half of the 20th Century, that recognition unquestionably belongs to Marvin Miller.

I had the honor and privilege to work with and for Marvin for the last 6 ½ years of his tenure as the MLBPA’s Executive Director, and I know from personal experience the impact he had.  I learned from him, and followed his example.  The strength and integrity of the MLBPA in the 31 years since Marvin’s retirement can be traced directly to his legacy.  All he wanted was to make certain that players were fairly treated.  That was his job and his goal, and generations of players — past, present and future – do and will thank him for the fact that they were and are.   His positive impact on Baseball simply can’t be overestimated.

Marvin should have been elected to the Hall many years ago.   It is a sad and sorry state of affairs that he has not been, and continues to reflect poorly on the very organization that has as its purpose recognizing and  celebrating Baseball’s best.

I’ll just add that Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame. And he was pretty awful at his job. If he didn’t have Marvin Miller beating him and the baseball owners into the proper direction throughout the 1970s, none of the stuff voters erroneously gave Kuhn credit for would’ve happened.

  1. bigharold - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    “In the first half of the 20th Century, no single person was more important to Baseball than was Jackie Robinson. In the second half of the 20th Century, that recognition unquestionably belongs to Marvin Miller.”

    Well that’s about half right.

    “I’ll just add that Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame. And he was pretty awful at his job.”

    Because individuals that shouldn’t be in the HoF are, is no reason to put in ones that should qualify. Miller never played nor was he employed in any way by MLB. Unless you want to start seriously considering the likes of Scott Boras, Miller doesn’t qualify for the HoF despite his impact on labor relations.

    • dlgdc - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      It’s not the MLB Hall of Fame, it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      • bigharold - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        OK, .. and Marvin Miller was never in baseball. He was a MLPA Union rep.

      • paperlions - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        The head of the MLBPA is the equivalent to being the commissioner of baseball. The commissioner works for the owners. The Head of the MLBPA works for the players. What’s the difference when it comes to being in the HOF?

      • mikhelb - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        It’s not the MLB Hall of Fame, it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame.

        Sure, but great hispanamerican players who didn’t play in MLB but had an impact playing baseball in their countries, are not in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

      • bigharold - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        “The head of the MLBPA is the equivalent to being the commissioner of baseball.”

        No he’s not. The MLB Commissioner is an administrator for MLB. Specifically, he’s the CEO of baseball which not only includes MLB but he also the minors. He negotiates TV contracts, marketing deals, adjudicates rules enforcement/violations, .. including PED violations, and administers the umpires AND negotiates with the players union. The head of the MLBPA is responsible for negotiating the CBA with baseball and defending players against the union. He doesn’t deal with marketing or TV deals or anything else. That’s a big difference in terms of length and breath of responsibility.

      • jacksprat57 - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        Big Harold, you believe in fairy tales. Baseball has always been governed in the things important to the OWNERS by their own committees. Rules changes are made by them and contracts are, as well. The Commissioner gets the housekeeping duties and serves as a lightning-rod, so that the Plutocrats aren’t bothered with too much unwanted attention or opprobrium.

    • ptfu - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      According to the voting eligibility rules on executives, Marvin Miller is eligible to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Those rules are open-ended, and there is zero mention of executives’ employment–unlike players who need “major league seasons” and managers/umpires who need “years in baseball”. What we have is a preamble about “contributions to the game” and age/retirement requirements.

      Did Marvin Miller make a significant contribution to the game? Hell yes.
      Has Marvin Miller been retired for more than five years? Yes.

      The man is clearly eligible to be on the ballot, and the eligibility committee recognized this when it placed him on the ballot. Your requirement that he work for MLB or baseball or whatever is not supported by the Hall of Fame voting rules.

      http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/eras-expansion

      Name: The Expansion Era Committee (“The Committee”) shall refer to the electorate that considers retired Major League Baseball players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), along with managers, umpires and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1973-present era.

      Eligible Candidates – Eligible candidates must be selected from:

      (A) Eligible candidates must be selected from managers, umpires, executives and players, who meet following criteria related to their classification:

      Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons;
      Managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years. Candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following retirement;
      Executives retired for at least five years. Active executives 65 years or older are eligible for consideration.

      • bigharold - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        “Did Marvin Miller make a significant contribution to the game? Hell yes.”

        No he didn’t. He did NOTHING to contribute to or improve baseball. His sole contribution was his part as Union head to enhance players earnings potential. In fact, as union head he lost his case concerning the reserve clause. But, the case put enough negative publicity on the issue that the owners caved and allowed free agency, The owners were concerned that further bad publicity and they’d risk losing their anti-trust exemption.

        Did he contribute to the players in terms of economic fairness, absolutely. Was he a historical figure , .. sure for labor relations though not baseball. I’m glad the players get their share, .. nobody ever paid a nickel to see an owner do anything but Miller has as much right to be in the HoF as Scot Boras or Budweiser.

      • Old Gator - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        Harold, quit while you’re ahead. So far today you’ve made yourself look like an idiot. One more post like that and you will have made yourself look like a total moron. You’ve done much better stuff than this. Enough.

    • spudchukar - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      Neither was Josh Gibson.

  2. onbucky96 - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Writers remember Miller. They just don’t care about his “contributions” to the game. Sleazy lawyer, just like his troll/ protege Don Fehr, whom I blame for the strike in 94. I am done w/Baseball if the MLBPA brings him back. Go to hell Don Fehr.

    • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      The writers are not the voters on the Veterans committee.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      Only thing missing from that screed was something anti-Semitic. Nice work, nearly nailed it.

      • shadowshand - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:48 AM

        Nicely done,

      • jacksprat57 - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        It’s especially silly given how many Owners are themselves Jewish. What, did they conspire with him against their own interests?

  3. HFS Richard - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    This was the veterans committee who you would think would have been the players who directly benefited from what he did or did not do.

    That being said I am somewhat shocked that he has not getting more support from the veterans committee unless he did something to anger them during his tenure with the PA.

    • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      They don’t have to be angered at him to believe there is no reason to enshrine some labor lawyer in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not every decision or position has to be emotionally rooted. I don’t think Jack Morris’ career merits the HoF either. That does not mean I’m angry with Morris. Just that I view his career differently than those who feel he does merit that honor.

  4. Mark Armour - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    To the people predictably ripping Craig for sticking up for a lawyer, you might be interested (probably not) in knowing that Miller was not a lawyer, either by training or by the job he actually performed. He was an economist and labor leader. His long-time assistant, Dick Moss, was a lawyer and was used to handle all legal matters before the union.

    • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      Thanks for the correction. I always wrongly thought he was a lawyer. However, knowing he was not a lawyer does not change my position that it is ludicrous the amount of concern people have about putting some guy who had nothing to do with baseball in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let the AFL/CIO start a labor agitators Hall of Fame and enshrine him there.

      • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        So you’d be more in favor of the owners pocketing 90% of the revenue and the labor “suffering” instead?

        Regardless of the amount of zeroes, I am pro-labor. Staunchly pro-labor. I want those performing the tasks that generate the revenue to share fairly with ownership.

        But if you hate Miller, so be it. Must be nice in the castle.

      • Mark Armour - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        For me, baseball history is a story. Miller played a big role (and a positive one, in my opinion) in shaping that story. Its really that simple for me. If you think baseball history can be expressed solely in terms of tangible on-field accomplishments (not being critical, this is a very common, perhaps majority, view) than obviously Miller does not belong.

      • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        Jason,

        Recognizing or believing Miller does not belong in the Hall of Fame as an inductee does not have anything to do with how I might think the revenues should be divided. Believing anyone does or does not belong in the Hall of Fame has nothing to do with loving them or hating them.

        Grow up a little.

      • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Mark Amour,

        I understand the “part of the history of baseball” argument. However, that is confusing the museum with the enshrinement. Many, many stories are told in the exhibits in the museum that don’t involve the inductees.

      • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        Grow up a little? Where’s that coming from?

        But you made the following comment: “…my position that it is ludicrous the amount of concern people have about putting some guy who had nothing to do with baseball in the Baseball Hall of Fame”

        Claiming Miller had nothing to do with baseball is comical at best. Miller had MORE to do with the changing of the game than anyone else and it’s not even close. Now, if you want to debate if those changes are good, bad or otherwise, we can do that. But to turn him away because you claim he was just “some guy who had nothing to do with baseball” is ridiculous.

      • mgv38 - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Marvin Miller had “nothing to do with baseball” in the same way that Paul Revere had nothing to do with the Revolutionary War. (Revere wasn’t even a SOLDIER, for Lord’s sake. Just a silversmith.)

    • largebill - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Was your comment a preemptive strike? No one was “ripping Craig for sticking up for a lawyer.” I disagree with Craig over the notion of putting Miller in the BASEBALL Hall of Fame, but don’t feel any need to rip him. People should be able to disagree without getting personal.

  5. schlom - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    If Miller should be in the Hall of Fame shouldn’t Andy Messersmith and Curt Flood be in as well? They actually put their careers on the line unlike Marvin Miller and the rest of the union heads.

  6. sdelmonte - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    This is the FIRST mention on this site that Tony Clark is now the head of the MLBPA. I think it’s an important story, since he is the first former player to head the union, and the first non-labor lawyer. I hope that at some point soon, after the winter meetings, there is a bit of discussion about this.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      How about this: It is very well deserved. Clark has long been among the most well-spoken, thoughtful, and respected players in the game. To see him elevated to such a position is testament to his character.

      Does that suffice?

      • sdelmonte - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        For now. Honestly, I didn’t see even that. Coming in a week with all the free agent signings, it was lost.

        I just wonder what sort of boss he’ll be. I always thought that Gene Upshaw, as great a player as he was, was a disaster for the NFLPA. But that might be more about the NFL and its absolute power over the union and less about the man in charge.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      This is the FIRST mention on this site that Tony Clark is now the head of the MLBPA

      It’s at least the third, and with tags broken I’m having difficultly finding another, but here’s the first:

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/21/mlbpa-head-michael-weiner-dies-at-age-51-following-battle-with-brain-cancer/

      Former major leaguer Tony Clark will now take over as acting executive director for the player’s union.

      And here’s the second:

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/12/05/dave-winfield-joins-mlbpa-as-special-assistant/

      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.

      • sdelmonte - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        I stand partly corrected. But I still would have made a bigger deal of it. Guess I am a geek for labor relations news.

  7. danrizzle - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    The amount of venom on this message board for Miller is pretty amazing. Why?

  8. fanofevilempire - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Dude had a bad ass stach too!
    maybe next year he ans The Boss may get in.

  9. spudchukar - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Know who else should be in the HOF, who never played a game in the Bigs; Harry Latina.

  10. DelawarePhilliesFan - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Memo to Donald – you want Marvin in the Hall? STFU

    People don’t much care for what you think.

  11. mikhelb - Dec 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Marvin Miller achieved great things as MLPA executive director, but he along Donald Fehr also protected players who used steroids (even if the opinion is that steroids don’t have an impact, they’re banned).

    During the mid 1980s Miller and Fehr (more prominently Fehr) threatened to sue MLB if players were given anti-doping tests AND if MLB tried to suspend players.

    To both men we owe the basic absolution of players involved in “the cocaine trials”, among those various high profile (HOF) players.

    • genericcommenter - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      And baseball was better for it.

  12. Chipmaker - Dec 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Miller brought about profound and lasting change to the business of baseball, with a magnitude of impact that few across the game’s long history can match, and made baseball better.

    Which is exactly the sort of individual and his contribution that the Hall should seek to honor through election.

    • bigharold - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:11 PM

      “… and made baseball better.”

      How?

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