baseball

Miller changed baseball in ways that improve players’ lives

Marvin Miller, the first director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Modern Era Committee, along with catcher Ted Simmons in December 2019.

The cancellation of the Hall’s 2020 Induction ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic postponed their inductions, along with Baseball Writers’ Association of America selections Derek Jeter and Larry Walker, all four of whom will be enshrined when the ceremony returns to the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Miller who passed away Nov. 27, 2012, gained induction to the Hall posthumously on the eighth occasion his name appeared on a Veterans/Era Committee Ballot and will occupy a unique corner of the Hall as the first labor leader to be enshrined.

Elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, Miller succeeded former president Bob Feller (1956-1959) and player agent Frank Scott (1959-1966) in the first year the organization was recognized as a union.

Miller was born in the Bronx on April 14, 1917. His mother, Gertrude Wald Miller, was an elementary school teacher and a member of the New York City teachers union (now the Union Federation of Teachers) and young Marvin joined her in a union organizing drive picket line.

Prior to his involvement in baseball, Miller had served as principal economic adviser and assistant to the president of the United Steel Workers, participating in contract negotiations.

In 1968, Miller successfully negotiated MLBPA’s first collective bargaining agreement with team owners, earning players a more than 40% increase in minimum salary, from $7,000 to $10,000 and increased expense allowances.

In 1970, he ushered in baseball’s arbitration process, meaning contract disputes would be heard by a non-partisan three-member arbitration panel rather than MLBs commissioner.

The arbitration process eventually helped achieve free-agency for players.

When Miller retired in 1982, the average player salary had increased by about 20 times what it was when he began his nearly 20-year tenure.

Miller’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame represents a change in attitude among baseball’s hierarchy and the Hall of Fame’s committee electors regarding his legacy and contributions to the game.

Upon learning of Miller’s election, MLBPA boss Tony Clark issued the following statement: “Players are pleased that Marvin will now take his rightful and long overdue place in the Hall of Fame in recognition of the monumental and positive impact he had on our game and our industry.”

Fellow inductee Ted Simmons, a direct beneficiary of Miller’s work at the time it was happening, also expressed joy.

“I could not have handpicked anyone better to go with me into the Hall of Fame,” Simmons said.

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