Marvin Miller, the man who changed the face of baseball, oversaw a series of work stoppages and ultimately led the players' union through the dawn of free agency, died Tuesday after a long bout with cancer.
Miller was 95, and died at his Manhattan home months after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
As executive director of the Players Association from 1966-84, Miller waged many battles with old-school owners, who had their own rules of running the game. In 1968 under Miller, players negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement. Two years later, he helped negotiate the players' rights to arbitration to resolve disputes.
He won free agency for players in December 1975.
"Marvin Miller was a highly accomplished executive and a very influential figure in baseball history," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "He made a distinct impact on this sport, which is reflected in the state of the game today, and surely the Major League players of the last half-century have greatly benefited from his contributions. On behalf of Major League Baseball and the 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Marvin's family, friends and colleagues."
Added current union head Michael Weiner, "All players -- past, present and future -- owe a debt of gratitude to Marvin, and his influence transcends baseball. Marvin, without question, is largely responsible for ushering in the modern era of sports, which has resulted in tremendous benefits to players, owners and fans of all sports."
Free agency and salary arbitration changed baseball, and earn billions of dollars in player salaries. During Miller's run, the average players' salary went from $10,000 in 1967 to $329,000 by 1984, while the minimum salary increased from $6,000 to $40,000. MLB's revenue has grown from $50 million in 1967 to $7.5 billion this year.
"Club owners had ruled baseball with an iron fist for nearly a century prior to Marvin Miller's appointment as the MLBPA's executive director," it reads on Miller's MLB.com biography page. "Players had no ability to choose their employer as they were tied to their original club by a 'reserve clause' in every player contract that provided for automatic renewal. Salaries and benefits were low, working conditions abysmal."
Miller presided over the first baseball strike, on April 5, 1972, and the sport has seen eight work stoppages through 1995, but none since then. Meanwhile, hockey is currently enduring a lockout, and football and basketball each recently had labor strife
"Marvin exemplified guts, tenacity and an undying love for the players he represented," National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. "He was a mentor to me, and we spoke often and at length. His most powerful message was that players would remain unified during labor strife if they remembered the sacrifices made by previous generations to make the game better. His passion for the players never faltered, and men in women across all sports are in a better place thanks to his tireless work."
Added NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth: "Marvin was the definition of a leader. By challenging team owners and league commissioners and successfully protecting and enhancing the rights of players, he proved that labor unions were necessary in sports."
An economist, Miller was elected to head the union by a 489-136 decision on April 15, 1966, and salaries have increased by close to 500 percent under his watch. One of his failings was in falling one vote shy of election in baseball's Hall-of-Fame.
"I and the union of players have received far more support, publicity, and appreciation from countless fans, former players, writers, scholars, experts in labor management relations, than if the Hall had not embarked on its futile and fraudulent attempt to rewrite history," Miller said after falling one vote short in December 2010. "It is an amusing anomaly that the Hall of Fame has made me famous by keeping me out."
He didn't need a plague to list his accomplishments. His legacy is tied to free agency. He saw the reserve clause that tied a player to a team holding as slavery, and wanted to challenge it in court. He got his chance in 1969, when outfielder Curt Flood refused to report to Philadelphia after he had been dealt by St. Louis.
Though that challenge ultimately failed, the clause finally fell in 1975, when pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally refused to sign contracts.
Eventually, arbitrator Peter Seitz sided with the players, and his decision was upheld two months later.
That sparked an agreement that allowed for players with six years of major-league service to become free agents.
"Marvin possessed a combination of integrity, intelligence, eloquence, courage and grace that is simply unmatched in my experience," said Donald Fehr, a successor to Miller as union chief, and now the head of the NHL Players' Association. "Without question, Marvin had more positive influence on Major League Baseball than any other person in the last half of the 20th century."
---Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games without pay for testing positive for an Amphetamine in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the league announced.
The suspension is effective at the start of the 2013 regular season. Ruiz can participate in spring training games.
The 33-year-old is coming off his first career All-Star star appearance in 2012 and received eighth- and 10th-place votes in the National League Most Valuable Player voting after establishing career highs in hitting (.325) OPS (.935), home runs (16) and RBI (68) while playing in 114 games. He posted his career-best numbers despite missing a month with a foot injury.
Ruiz was also awarded the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award, an honor that goes to the best defensive player on each major league team. Ruiz had a .994 fielding percentage in 2012, which tied for fifth in the big leagues among catchers.
Ruiz's previous career-high for home runs was nine in 2009.
---New York Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte is close to finalizing a one-year, $11-million deal, according to multiple reports.
Pettitte fared well in 12 regular season starts in 2012, then made two postseason starts. He posted a 2.87 ERA in 75 1/3 regular-season innings in 2012, but missed six weeks after a batted ball broke his left ankle.
With Pettitte, the Yankees' rotation will have CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
Also, the Yankees continue to negotiate with Russell Martin, though the catcher has visited with multiple teams his agent told ESPN New York.
The team is also optimistic about closing a deal for Mariano Rivera, according to a FOX Sports report, and an agreement could come as early as next week. Rivera, 42, made just nine appearances before tearing his ACL in May.
---The San Francisco Giants might be ready to trim The Beard.
Right-handed closer Brian Wilson, known for his wildly long and dark beard, might not receive a contract offer from the team by the Friday deadline, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Players who aren't tendered a contract become free agents.
Wilson missed nearly the entire 2012 season due to a right elbow injury, and he underwent "Tommy John" surgery in April. He earned $8.5 million this year while serving as a cheerleader for the team's run to the World Series championship.
By rule, players can't have their salary cut by more than 20 percent, so the Giants would have to offer him at least $6.8 million for 2013. The Chronicle reported that the team isn't ready to commit that much money to a player coming off major surgery. According to the newspaper, the Giants would like to re-sign Wilson to a deal that would carry a lower guaranteed salary but would include sizeable incentives Wilson could earn should he return to his previous form.
Wilson, 30, led the National League with 48 saves in 2010, and he helped the Giants win the World Series that year. In 10 postseason appearances, he allowed no earned runs in 10 innings while racking up six saves and a win.
He saved at least 36 games in four consecutive seasons before he was shut down after two appearances this year.
In Wilson's absence, the Giants employed a closer-by-committee approach for much of the season before settling on Sergio Romo as the closer. In the postseason, the San Francisco bullpen was outstanding, and Romo saved three of the four World Series wins against the Detroit Tigers.
---Pitcher Scott Feldman signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, the team announced. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
The right-hander pitched in 29 games for the Texas Rangers last season, including 21 starts. He posted a 5.09 ERA in 123 2/3 innings.
The Rangers declined their 2013 option for Feldman last month, and gave him $600,000 buyout vs. $9.25 million salary.
---The New York Mets have offered third baseman David Wright a seven-year deal that is reportedly worth at least $135 million with incentives that could push the total value of the contract over $140 million according to CBS Sports.
Talks that had been stagnant were given a jolt when the Mets tacked an additional year on their earlier offer. The deal would pay Wright between $15 million and $20 million annually and wouldn't begin until after the 2013 season, when Wright is under contract at $16 million.
A previous FOX Sports report said the Mets had proposed a six-year extension, but that that face of the franchise was seeking an extra year.
Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays signed comparable six-year deals, though those came with the players further from free agency. Wright can leave the Mets after the 2013 season.
The 29-year-old three-time Gold Glove third baseman batted .306 with 21 homers and 93 runs batted in last season.
---With an eye toward bolstering their rotation, the Cincinnati Reds are discussing a three-year contract with free agent reliever Jonathan Broxton, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported.
If Broxton re-signs with the Reds, he could take over as the closer. That would free up left-hander Aroldis Chapman to move from the closer role into a starting role.
Broxton, 28, began last season as the Kansas City Royals' closer, then was traded to Cincinnati on July 31 for two minor-leaguers. With the Reds, he mostly served as a setup man.
In 35 appearances for Kansas City this year, Broxton went 1-2 with 23 saves in 27 chances and a 2.27 ERA. He pitched 25 times for the Reds, going 3-3 with four saves and a 2.82 ERA.
Broxton spent seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, twice making the National League All-Star team, before signing a one-year deal with the Royals last winter.
Chapman, 24, is one of the most unhittable lefties in the majors, and he emerged as an intimidating closer this year. He went 38-for-43 on save opportunities while posting a 5-5 record and a 1.51 ERA. Chapman struck out 122 and walked just 23 in 71 2/3 innings.
The Reds figure Chapman's blazing fastball would be just as effective in a starting role, though all 137 of Chapman's major league appearances have come in relief.
---Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is nearing a deal with the Los Angeles Angels, according to multiple reports.
A CBSSports.com report said the deal is for one season and would install Madson the team's closer.
Madson, 32, missed 2012 after having Tommy John surgery. He posted a 3.59 ERA in parts of nine season with the Philadelphia Phillies from 2003-11.