Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marvin Miller deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

That's the title of a just-posted column by Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer.Here's a good passage -- 

For all its pretentious reverence, the Hall is home to scoundrels of every stripe - racists, drunks, misanthropes, wife-beaters, gamblers, syphilitics - and more than a few whose baseball resum├ęs don't warrant their inclusion.
Morgan Bulkeley, whose career in the game spanned two years as a team owner and one as National League president, is in the Hall. Miller is not.
Bowie Kuhn, a bumbling commissioner who was KO'd by Miller every time they shared the same ring, is in the Hall. Miller is not.
Phil Rizzuto, who had 1,588 hits, 38 homers, and 563 RBIs in a so-so 13-year career, is in the Hall. Miller is not.
Holy cow!
All Miller did was forever change the game - all of sports, really. Until he came along, baseball was a plantation. Players had no rights and no opportunity to change the status quo.
He looked at baseball, stripped away its sentimental veneer, and saw it for what it was: a moneymaking enterprise. He convinced the cowed players they had the same rights as any other American worker. And that included the right to organize.

It was Phillies Hall of Famer Robin Roberts who, with the aid of Penn professor George Taylor, found Miller and in 1966 gave the labor economist the job of molding the powerless players into a bargaining force.
That was quite a challenge. Historically, the owners had ruthlessly crushed any organizing effort. The average major-league salary in 1965 was $19,000. The minimum was $6,000, $900 below what a typical American family earned that year. The reserve clause, as odious a judicial construct as the Dred Scott decision, bound them to one team for perpetuity.

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