Legendary labor leader Marvin Miller, who died in 2012, is among those up for election to baseball's Hall of Fame. He missed by one vote the last time he was on a ballot, in 2010, so he stands a good chance of making it in this, a sixth attempt. With that in mind, Murray Chass — one of Miller's most informed advocates — wrote on his blog Sunday that getting into Cooperstown is something Miller definitely would not want. Miller had repeatedly said "No, thank you" when he was alive, and his kids continue to say so on his behalf.
The family's position is simple, yet nuanced. One reason: The Millers believe, as does Chass, that Miller repeatedly has been put on the ballot because the powers who control the Hall of Fame knew he would fail to get elected. The motivation has been to embarrass Miller and to show how unworthy he is. Chass writes:
This is the sixth time Miller’s name has appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot, meaning he is 0-for-5 in votes by assorted committees in various formats. It was after his third snub in 2007 that he told me of his desire to be omitted from future ballots, asked me what I thought of the idea and also asked me the appropriate way of going about communicating that desire.
I sympathized with his desire to no longer be abused by the Hall of Fame and suggested that he write to Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association, a committee of whose members makes up the ballot.
Miller wrote the letter, but it had no effect. He was back on the ballot in 2009 and was rejected a fourth time. By this time, Miller, irate at the Hall’s ignoring his request, was calling the committee rigged to make sure he was not elected.
Miller died a year ago but not before reiterating his feelings to his children. “They’re cowards doing it after he died,” Susan Miller said a few weeks ago about her father’s name on the ballot. With the election approaching, Peter Miller recently sent an e-mail to three people, including me, emphasizing his father’s position.
Miller's stance does pose a pertinent question: If he does not want to be in the Hall of Fame — and it's supposed to be an honor, not a penalty — should his wish be granted?
Even if Miller deserves to be in Cooperstown — even if it's only to acknowledge the importance of his role in bringing collective bargaining to MLB, and how the transfer of power from owners to players has altered game's history and its trajectory — the Hall probably should just go on without him.
On the other hand, it sure would be an awkward induction next summer if the electorate ignores Miller's wishes again, in a different way, and puts him in. What a strange sort of revenge for Miller — not that his family has been seeking it. Or is it revenge for the Hall establishment that's been "out to get" Miller? Awkward, either way.
Read more at Chass' blog. Though he frequently comes off as a curmudgeonly caricature with bizarre opinions on performance-enhancing drugs and bacne, Chass writes at his Hall of Fame best on subjects like Miller. His post is a great read throughout as he tackles other Hall of Fame tangents, including the chances of Jack Morris, Frank Thomas and others. He also writes about the funeral of players union leader Michael Weiner. Chass was there and reports that one active player attended. One. And it was Alex Rodriguez. Fascinating.
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