Marvin Miller Slams Veterans Committee After Latest Hall of Fame Snub
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Marvin Miller fell one vote short of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee Monday, and that snub left the founding executive director of the Major League Baseball Players' Association angry.
"The Baseball Hall of Fame's vote (or non-vote) of December 5, hardly qualifies as a news story. It is repetitively negative, easy to forecast, and therefore boring," Miller said in a statement released by the MLBPA.
He continued: "Many years ago those who control the Hall decided to rewrite history instead of recording it. The aim was to eradicate the history of the tremendous impact of the players' union on the progress and development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment, and as an industry. The union was the moving force in bringing Major League Baseball from the 19th century to the 21st century.
"It brought about expansion of the game to cities that had never had a Major League team. It brought about more than a 50 percent increase in the number of people employed as players, coaches, trainers, managers, club presidents, attorneys and other support personnel, employees of concessionaires, stadium maintenance personnel, parking lot attendants, and more. It converted a salary structure from one with a $6,000 a year minimum salary to a $414,000 a year salary from the first day of a player's major league service.
"The union was also the moving force for changing the average major league salary from $19,000 a year to more than $3 million a year, and the top salary from $100,000 to more than $25 million a year. The union was a major factor in increasing the annual revenue of all major league clubs, combined -- from $50 million a year before the union started in 1966 to this year's almost $7 billion a year. That is a difficult record to eradicate -- and the Hall has failed to do it.
"A long time ago, it became apparent that the Hall sought to bury me long before my time, as a metaphor for burying the union and eradicating its real influence. Its failure is exemplified by the fact that 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. It is an amusing anomaly that the Hall of Fame has made me famous by keeping me out."
Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, a member of the 16-person Veterans Committee tasked with voting on this year's Expansion Era candidates, said Miller's exclusion was more a result of how difficult it is to get into the Hall of Fame than anything else.
"I was a bit surprised (that he didn't get elected)," Bench said. "There was a lot of dialogue. Everyone got a fair assessment.
"It's hard, you know, when you have to get 75 percent. It's really difficult. ... He had a huge impact for all of us (players), for sure. There's certain reasons that held some people back on their votes, but it's a very difficult decision to make."
Still, that probably won't do much to change the perception that Miller has been a victim of owners and executives that he sparred with during his time as chief of the players' union.
"There can be no question as to the extraordinary contributions that he made to baseball," former MLBPA head Don Fehr said in a statement. "In the last half of the 20th Century no one had a greater or more meaningful positive impact on the Game than did Marvin Miller.
"Generations of players are already in his debt, as all future players will be. The fact that a few members of the Expansion Era Committee saw fit to continue to deny recognition to the representative of the Players -- who are the reason that the Hall exists in the first place -- says more about them than it does about Marvin."
Four executives -- Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox) -- were on this year's committee, meaning that if all of them voted against Miller, every other member of the panel would have to cast a ballot in his favor for him to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Bench, who said he voted for Miller, insisted that there was no vendetta against Miller on the Veterans Committee.
"They were very fair, they were very open, they were very honest," he said of the four ownership representatives involved in the voting process.
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