NOW CAN HE GET IN?

By Murray Chass

November 27, 2012

Now the Hall of Fame can allow Marvin Miller into its hallowed halls.  Baseball owners and executives are safe from Miller, who died Tuesday at the age of 95.

After Hall of Fame committees loaded with current and former management personnel repeatedly rejected Marvin Miller 225Miller, I came to the conclusion they refused him admission not only because he took control of the game away from them but also because they feared what he might say in his induction speech. They would deny that, of course, but those on the committee mostly hated Miller and did not want to hear what he might have had to say.

Not all management people opposed Miller’s election, but most of them on the various committees Miller’s name went before refused to vote for him. One of the most prominent former management members who strongly favored Miller’s election was former commissioner Fay Vincent, but Vincent was never asked to serve on one of the committees.

The committees, in fact, were always stacked against Miller. While there were a few former players on the committees, no union official or former union official was ever given a spot on a committee. David Glass, owner of the Kansas City Royals, never voted for Miller, but Richard Moss and Don Fehr certainly would have. The Hall never invited them to participate.

I reluctantly make this about Miller’s failure to be elected to the Hall because at the time of his death we should be celebrating his life. He was an amazing man who took a host of selfish players and turned them into perhaps the most effective union in labor history.

The strangest supporter Miller had in recent years was Ray Grebey, who was the owners’ chief negotiator during the 1981 players’ strike. Even though Miller wouldn’t even talk to Grebey in the final weeks of those negotiations, Grebey a couple of years ago spoke out publicly in support of Miller’s election to the Hall and tried to recruit others to join him in that effort.

In a most bizarre development Lee MacPhail, who became a surrogate for Grebey in those final weeks died earlier this month, also at the age of 95.

In another coincidence, Miller died in New York as players gathered in the city for the annual executive board meeting of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the organization of which he became executive director at its founding in 1966.

The announcement of Miller’s death came from the union.

“All players – past, present and future – owe a debt of gratitude to Marvin, and his influence transcends baseball,” Michael Weiner, current executive director of the union said in a statement. “Marvin without question, is largely responsible for Marvin Miller Fehr Weiner 225ushering in the modern era of sports, which has resulted in tremendous benefits to players, owners and fans of all sports.

“It was an honor and a privilege to have known Marvin. The industry has never witnessed a more honorable man, and his passion for helping others and his principled resolve serve as the foundation of the MLBPA to this day. On behalf of all Major Leaguers and MLBPA staff, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to Marvin’s daughter, Susan, son, Peter, their families and Marvin’s many friends and admirers. Marvin was a champion among champions, and his legacy will live on forever.”

In another statement, Donald Fehr, Weiner’s predecessor said “Marvin possessed a combination of integrity, intelligence, eloquence, courage and grace that is simply unmatched in my experience. Without question, Marvin had more positive influence on Major League Baseball than any other person in the last half of the 20th century. It was a rare privilege for me to be able to work for him and with him. All of us who knew him will miss him enormously.”

Circumstances beyond my control prevent me from writing more on Miller’s life and death but I will expand on the subject in my next column.

I will make one more point. At the end Miller, who made one of the two or three greatest impacts on the game, no longer cared about the Hall of Fame. But as baseball’s so-called shrine does it want to continue to be a farce by not electing him even though it would be almost an insult to do it after his death?

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