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Cooperstown Union-Busting

[ 0 ] December 9, 2007 |

Fay Vincent has more. I didn’t know this, but apparently the new inductee brought the same level of competence and integrity to his post-baseball career:

When Kuhn was pushed out of baseball — as I was years later — he went back to his law firm. In 1988, he and another lawyer started a new firm that was expected to be a grandly successful practice. At the end of 1989, Myerson & Kuhn filed for bankruptcy. At this point, Kuhn moved to Florida — a move that his creditors’ lawyers said was made to claim the protection of that state’s homestead exemption.

Under that law, the home of a debtor may not be used to satisfy debts, and so Kuhn, with a large, valuable and recently purchased Florida residence, was literally home free. In effect, he thumbed his nose at the banks and court in New York, and he left his partners, some of whom he had vigorously recruited, holding a huge empty bag. One such former partner, a tax expert, complained bitterly to me when I was in baseball. He has since died but I wonder how he would have felt about this latest honor by an institution that claims to value character when it considers candidates.

The members of the committee that elected Bowie Kuhn and passed on Marvin Miller should feel ashamed. But they do not. They almost surely believe that Miller and the union won the war, but they refuse him the honor of his victory. This is a set of actions by little men making small-minded decisions.

As King Kaufman points out, even leaving aside the unconscionable exclusion of Miller the election of Kuhn itself is ridiculous. He wasn’t even a competent union-buster; it would be like putting Bill Frist into the Political Hall of Fame.

This silliness also reflects the recurrent pattern James identified in The Politics of Glory. The Hall of Fame creates rules that make it virtually impossible to elect anybody; this won’t hold, because the Hall need new members; and then the rules are changed in a way that makes the arbitrary selection of transparently unqualified members (in many cases cronies of the selection committee) inevitable. Stacking the selection committee primarily to exclude one obviously overqualified individual seems to be a new twist, though.

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