Michael Weiner, head of MLB’s players union, dies at age 51 from brain cancer

Big League Stew

It's fitting that a player broke the news. After all, Michael Weiner devoted his career to looking out for them.

Weiner, the executive director of Major League Baseball Players' Association, has died at age 51 after a bout with brain cancer. He was diagnosed in August 2012. His condition was inoperable. He died at his home in Mansfield Township, N.J.

Brad Ziegler, the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher and a union representative, informed the world of Weiner's death via Twitter.

Weiner had been head of the MLBPA since 2009, replacing Don Fehr. The landmark of Weiner's time as union chief is the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which will have kept baseball free of labor stoppages for 21 years by the time it expires in 2016. Among other things, the agreement introduced HGH testing in baseball.

Former MLB player Tony Clark will now take over as interim director of the MLBPA. He released a statement about Weiner's death:

''Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today,'' Clark said in a statement. ''Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend.''

Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown wrote a nice piece about Weiner's cancer fight in July, after the MLB All-Star Game, detailing how Weiner was still going about his business in what ended up being the final few months of his life:

Currently the tumor — it is inoperable — has shut down the right side of his body. So he bobs his left foot on the wheelchair pedal, and he speaks from the left side of his mouth, and he gestures with his left hand as a time-buffed gold watch slides up and down his depleted left forearm

Incongruously, perhaps insidiously, the tumor in his brain has attacked some functions of his body but not those of his brain. So the executive director of the players' union, 51 years old, 3 ½ years on the job, having raised three daughters, takes experimental drugs to remain hopeful, and takes on the day in search of what he has left. The Biogenesis scandal is as much his as it is the commissioner's, and expanded instant replay is coming, and there is always something that must be tended to, including plans for his own succession.

Near the end of Brown's piece is a quote from Weiner that's especially touching and worth relaying to everyone — sick, healthy or somewhere in the middle. Weiner said this to a room full of baseball writers. It was the final time he spoke publicly.

"What I look for every day is beauty, meaning and joy. And if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, then that's a good day. … I'll live each day for those things. And I'll live each day looking for those things. Because I don't know how much time I'll have."

Wonderful words. Condolences to Weiner's family members, friends and associates.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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