Thursday, 29 November 2012

Marvin Miller - The Most Significant Figure in Baseball in the Past 50 Years?

Professor Ed Edmonds
The following piece is written by Notre Dame Law School sports law professor Ed Edmonds, one of the best minds around on baseball and the law and founder of the Baseball Salary Arbitration website.

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Marvin Miller - The Most Significant Figure in Baseball in the Past 50 Years?

There have been no shortage of articles this past week honoring the passing of the legendary leader of the MLBPA Marvin Miller at age 95.  Many writers have noted that he was possibly the most significant figure in baseball over the past half-century.  I certain agree that he belongs in any conversation about that topic, and I point to an earlier post on this blog by Howard Wasserman regarding his place in sports law history.  I will not attempt to go through the compilation of Miller’s many accomplishments because so many of you know and teach about this on a regular basis. 

Let me take up one point that comes together with the thoughts of Murray Chass, the long-time writer for the New York Times.  By the way, if you do not regularly read Mr. Chass’s writings on Murray Chass . . . On Baseball, I highly recommend it.  Murray Chass posits that perhaps Miller can now be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame because the owners and other management personnel will not be subjected to his acceptance speech or because their hatred for the man who led the players to some freedom over their playing careers and significantly better pay and working conditions would not allow them to vote into the Hall a man who so rightly deserves to be there.  I only need to mention the additional shun shown Miller when the Hall opened its doors to Bowie Kuhn.

How ironic is it that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa appear this week for the first time on a Hall of Fame ballot?  We are finally at the point so many have waited for to determine how the voters will actually deal with the steroid era candidates.  There will be a renewed conversation about the integrity of the induction process if Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa are allowed the honor of enshrinement.  My point is a simple one:  If anyone is really concerned about the “integrity” of the membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the exclusion of Miller needs to be addressed.  Marvin Miller’s bitterness over his non-election sparked comments from him that he would not have accepted the honor in his final few years.  Perhaps now everyone can agree to do not only the honorable thing, but an honest thing.  To not have a plaque to Marvin Miller in the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a grievous oversight.  Let’s hope that it is remedied soon.

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