Monday, December 03, 2007

Miller Snubbed Again

Marvin Miller (right) and Curt Flood, 1970

The Veterans' Committee today announced that they have elected five new memebers for the baseball Hall of Fame. Their selections include two former managers, two former owners, and a commissioner. For the fifth straight year, those with a vote chose to ignore Marvin Miller, head of the player's union from 1966 to 1984. When Miller was passed over a year ago, Murray Chass of the New York Times wrote:

Miller did more to influence the game and business of baseball than anyone in history except perhaps for Branch Rickey, who demolished baseball’s color barrier. Rickey brought black players into the game, and Miller made them wealthy. Miller did more than that, of course. He made it possible for all players to make a lot of money, and he improved their working conditions.

The folks that run Major League Baseball don't view that as a positive development. Gains for the players are losses for the owners. Thirty years after players earned free agency and the right to collective bargaining, it appears that some people are still holding a grudge

What's particularly egregious is that wile the voters showed no support for Miller, they were nearly unanimous in selecting his nemesis, former commissioner Bowie Kuhn. The 12-member committee cast 10 votes for Kuhn; Miller received just three.

Outrage over the snub was nearly universal. John Helyar of ESPN wrote: "As the intrepid head of the players union, Miller reshaped the sport's economics," he added. "As the inept figurehead of the owners, Kuhn tried to preserve the status quo. And lost every time."

Murray Chass wrote in the New York Times that the omission of Miller was not surprising but still embarassing. "That only 3 of the 12 voters on the new executives committee acknowledged his contribution, and voted for him, is a sad commentary on the committee members and the Hall’s board of directors, which concocted the committee." He added, "The National Baseball Hall of Fame has become a national joke."

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune called Miller's omission disgraceful. "To deny Miller while honoring Kuhn insults the intelligence of the fans who will go to Cooperstown next July and lessens the credibility of the Hall's good work throughout history."