Marvin Miller, R.I.P.

Flood-Miller
Curt Flood and Marvin Miller in 1970.

Marvin Miller was always a controversial figure in his time as the head of
the baseball players union. He was a die-hard union man who came to sports from
the United Steelworkers. In this era of overpaid free agents and millionaire
bench warmers, it’s easy to forget that ballplayers used to be little more than
indentured servants. Marvin Miller was the one who changed that.He
died today at the age of 95.

Despite being one of the most consequential off-field figures in baseball
history, Miller is not in the Hall Of Fame. I suspect that being the scourge of the
owners may have something to do with that. That’s as good a reason as any for
his enshrinement but the real reason is that he changed the game in a major way.

As much as I grumble about overpaid players, Miller’s legacy is a positive
one: ballplayers have the right to control their own careers, which brought the
American way to the National Pastime.

It’s a pity that most current players know little or nothing about the man
who made them rich and spared them from having to get a j-o-b in the off-season.
I have some nostalgia for those days: it was always cool when an announcer told
you what a player did in the off-season. Richie Hebner, who played for the
Pirates, Phillies, Mets, Tigers and Cubs had my favorite ballplayer job: he was a gravedigger.
I am not making that up.

Update:I just read Keith Olbermann’s post about Miller’s passing.It’s a good ‘un. I’ve missed Keith even if he is a bit of a malaka but he’s *our* malaka…

4 thoughts on “Marvin Miller, R.I.P.

  1. Lex says:

    So was Rod Stewart, before he hit it big. Of course, back in the day, musicians were little more than indentured servants, too, and it’d take someone with more knowledge than I have to determine who had it worse.
    Kids, when Henry Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record and whose own record Barry Bonds “broke,” first topped the quarter-million mark in annual salary, it was big damn news.

  2. adrastos says:

    It was huge news when Willie Mays became the first $100K player as well.

  3. mapleStreet says:

    Not just baseball but in all professional ball leagues. I find it interesting that the idea of players forming some sort of bargaining collective was so horrendous when the team owners already had a collective / monopoloy which determined who you could play for, if you even got to play, etc.

  4. UncleZed says:

    Another amazing fact about pre-free-agency ball players: The best third baseman ever, (IMHO) was Brooks Robinson, who played 23 years for the Baltimore Orioles. His TOTAL compensation was under $1 Million.

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