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Marvin Miller

[ 26 ] November 27, 2012 |

R.I.P. A great man, who had a real impact on history; we need many more of his like than we have. When he said that MLB players were among the most exploited workers in America, he was right — exploitation isn’t just being paid a low wage, it’s being paid far less than your services are worth.

Precisely because of his salutary impact, Miller has been snubbed from the Hall of Fame. At this point, I’m not even sure that I want him in. We took djw on his first visit to Cooperstown over the holiday weekend, and seeing the tributes to Ron Santo on the one hand made me happy that he finally got the honor he obviously deserved but on the other hand made me angry because waiting until after he was around to enjoy it almost made it more insulting. So while Miller’s exclusion is outrageous, I’m not sure that I even want to see him inducted now. He made history from the outside, and good.

…via Emma Span, Miller on the HoF issue: ““I’ve never campaigned to be in the Hall and have asked not to be included on any ballot,” Miller says. “But they continue to put me on the list and then rig the election. Considering who runs the place, not being a part of it gives me credibility as a union leader. That’s how I hope it stays long after I’m gone.””

Comments (26)

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  1. Sherm says:

    A continuing snub from the powers that be almost seems to be a more suitable honor at this point in time.

  2. TT says:

    It’d sure be nice if the players took it upon themselves to wear some kind of sleeve patch or band in his honor throughout next season. God knows the owners won’t do it.

    (Though I’d argue that it’s precisely because of Miller’s, and later Fehr’s, vision, courage, and efforts that the owners have come to enjoy the most stable labor relations of any of the major sports since ’94-’95, while realizing gains in both revenue and attendance, and embarking upon a league-wide building boom.)

  3. Martin says:

    Very nicely put. Thanks.

  4. Nicely said. Whenever I talk to my rightwing family members about unions, the answer they give is that they’re obsolete because now we have OSHA, as though the point of it was merely to make working conditions slightly safer. The point really is that the people who make the dreams become reality ought to share in the rewards, because it couldn’t happen without them. Miller was a prototype for how that process should work.

    • TT says:

      And lest anyone be fooled, judging by the proposals repeatedly put forward by NFL, NBA, and especially NHL owners during each of their recent (and ongoing, in the NHL’s case) lockouts, a reinstitution of the reserve clause in some form or guise remains the Holy Grail of professional sports ownership management. Of course, this fact is badly obscured by the sports media’s possibly-greedy-owners-but-definitely-and-far-greedier-players narrative.

  5. c u n d gulag says:

    Anybody who pissed-off Walter O’Malley and Dick Young that much, belongs in MY HOF!

    I think the greater honor would be being inducted in the NLRB and/or Labor HOF’s – if they existed.

  6. Richard Hershberger says:

    The structure we typically call the Hall of Fame actually holds three distinctly different collections. There is the museum, which takes up most of the building; the research library, tucked in the back; and the Hall of Fame proper: the room with the plaques. The museum and library are excellent. The room with the plaques is simultaneously ridiculous and dull. Anyone interested in baseball history would enjoy the museum, and those of an academic bent would benefit from spending some time in the library. The Hall itself is largely beside the point.

    • actor212 says:

      People go into the Hall proper to look for their favorite players, not to admire it as a museum.

      I have no problem with that aspect. For that, it is clean, efficient and roomy. That’s all that’s required.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yeah, I like the plaques myself.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        To each his own. I attend an annual conference held in the auditorium by the library. I breeze past the plaques on my way back there. I find them largely uninteresting because they don’t tell me anything I don’t know. I can get a much more convenient list of names in some other format, as well as the texts on the plaques (many of which are hilariously inaccurate, at least for the older ones). Compare this with the museum, where I can see what a deadball era glove was like, or an 1880s bat. I could look at photographs, but that isn’t the same.

        What the room with the plaques gives is a pseudo-religious space for a contemplative experience. In short, it encourages the worst sort of gassy you-have-to-understand-baseball-to-understand-America self-congratulatory blather. Combine this with interminable arguments about who should or should not be in, and I am about ready to put a ball point pen through my skull. (The Marvin Miller argument, by contrast, is actually interesting, as it is one about history, not statistics.)

        But de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that.

  7. actor212 says:

    Five words: Put Curt Flood in first.

    Then Miller will have my full-throated support.

  8. Mike Schilling says:

    I’m waiting to see what the HoF does with Bonds and Clemens, both of whom obviously deserve to be “first-rounders”.

    • tucker says:

      I believe you already know the answer to that question. It’s just a question of how many ***holes will opine about “cheating and purity”.

  9. Miller not being in the Hall diminishes the institution, but the longer the ownership presence on the Veteran’s Committee keeps him out due to petty grievance, the longer he gets to ride out his last triumph over them. Godspeed.

  10. Jesse Levine says:

    Miller, Yes! Santo ,No. Really didn’t earn it.

  11. howard says:

    I have to admit i hadn’t realized miler was still alive. I have no idea what kind of person he was, but as a public figure he was exemplary.

  12. dick gregory says:

    When Greg Proops did a history of baseball for the BBC World Service he started with Marvin Miller saying this (I quote from memory):
    “According to Karl Marx’s Labour Theory of Value, the degree to which a worker is exploited is expressed by dividing the surplus value taken by the employer by the total value of what he produces. By this definition, in the early 1970s the American baseball player was the most exploited worker in the world.”

  13. Jim Lynch says:

    Tim McCarver was once asked why players were unable to get it together prior to Miller. He answered (something like) “because we were idiots”. RIP, Marvin.

  14. sleepyirv says:

    Yes, I hear people say, ‘A plague on both your houses.’ You know what that is? That’s lazy thinking. It’s intellectual dishonesty. That’s people saying, ‘I don’t care about the issues. I don’t care who’s right. It could be that what the owners are offering is terrible, it may be outrageous, but take it anyway because I don’t want a stoppage.’ How awful is that?’

    It’s horrible. But a scenario the GOP learn quite a valuable lesson from.

  15. BobS says:

    Keith Olbermann is good on this at Baseball Nerd.

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