LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Marvin Miller missed making baseball's Hall of Fame in his sixth and what his family hopes is his final opportunity. A legendary labor leader, Miller's contributions — while not universally appreciated, obviously — had as much or more of an effect on the game than those of anyone else in the past 40 or 50 years.
And yet, the various electorates in a position to acknowledge Miller's place in baseball have refused to do so, time and again. No disrespect to former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre — all of whom were announced as new Hall of Famers on Monday — but their awards are tarnished because Miller isn't already in Cooperstown. It's too bad for them, but that's way it has to be. And that's how Miller would have wanted it.
Some time ago, Miller concluded, the powers that be — tightly aligned with his foes in Major League Baseball — just kept re-nominating him in order to embarrass him, because they knew he wouldn't win. One of Miller's dying wishes, literally, was for the Hall of Fame to stop putting his name up for election. Miller's family even actively lobbied for Miller be dropped from consideration. It probably will in the future, if he's nominated again.
That didn't stop Don Fehr, the man who replaced Miller as the union's executive director in 1983, from being among those who ripped the Hall for omitting Miller again after he failed to get the required 12 of 16 votes. In a statement, Fehr said:
In the first half of the 20th Century, no single person was more important to Baseball than was Jackie Robinson. In the second half of the 20th Century, that recognition unquestionably belongs to Marvin Miller.
I had the honor and privilege to work with and for Marvin for the last 6 ½ years of his tenure as the MLBPA’s Executive Director, and I know from personal experience the impact he had. I learned from him, and followed his example. The strength and integrity of the MLBPA in the 31 years since Marvin’s retirement can be traced directly to his legacy. All he wanted was to make certain that players were fairly treated. That was his job and his goal, and generations of players -- past, present and future – do and will thank him for the fact that they were and are. His positive impact on Baseball simply can’t be overestimated.
Marvin should have been elected to the Hall many years ago. It is a sad and sorry state of affairs that he has not been, and continues to reflect poorly on the very organization that has as its purpose recognizing and celebrating Baseball’s best.
A comparison to Jackie Robinson doesn't overstate Miller's case one bit, even though Fehr fails to mention Miller's own disdain for the Hall's voting process and the perceived motivations behind keeping him out. That's OK. He's just playing "worse" cop to the Miller family's "bad cop." Miller's allies are punishing the Hall for its behavior, trying to shame it — although not into admitting Miller someday. Just to shame it. And shame it deserves.
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