There may be no greater absurdity in sports than Marvin Miller’s conspicuous absence from baseball’s Hall of Fame.
(Yes, that includes you, Pete Rose.)
Miller, who as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association was arguably the most influential figure in sports during the past 50 years, died Tuesday in New York. He was 95.
Miller came from the steelworkers union in 1966 and helped turn what had essentially been a “house union” into the world’s most powerful trade organization.
In his view, given their talents, baseball players were some of the most exploited and least informed employees he’d ever encountered. Within a decade, Miller and the players union had killed baseball’s archaic reserve clause, which bound players to a single team forever. Through collective bargaining with the owners, the players got a system that largely remains in place today—two reserve years, followed by arbitration eligibility, followed by free agency after six years of service. That system ultimately spread to the other sports and changed the lives of thousands of professional athletes for the better.
And Miller, who’s been barred from baseball’s shrine for lo these many years, deserves better.