Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Game-Changer No Person Did More to Alter Baseball's Landscape Than First Boss of Players Union

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Game-Changer No Person Did More to Alter Baseball's Landscape Than First Boss of Players Union

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Of all the kind words expressed Tuesday on Marvin Miller's death at the age of 95, two stood out.

Thank you.

The debt of gratitude owed to Miller, whose game-changing tenure as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association forever altered the business of professional sports, is impossible to calculate.

But in fighting -- and winning -- the battle for free agency in baseball, Miller helped grant players the right to eventually choose their workplace and earn as much as a competitive market would bear. That, in turn, transformed athletes into multimillionaires, a process Miller began when he helped to form the players union in 1966.

"Sad to hear about the passing of Marvin Miller," Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey said on his Twitter account. "He will be missed. A true pioneer. Thank you, Marvin."

If not for Miller's revolutionary efforts, players such as Dickey would be in much different situations. When Miller was hired, and MLB teams still employed the reserve clause to control their players, the minimum salary was $6,000, with an average of $19,000.

When Miller left in 1982, the average salary was $241,000, and it has skyrocketed since, with a present-day average of more than $3 million and $480,000 minimum.

It didn't come without a price.

Miller's hard-nosed tactics resulted in three work stoppages for baseball, including the first strike in professional sports history in 1972. The endgame, of course, was an unqualified victory that the players enjoy now more than ever.

"His influence transcends baseball," current MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said. "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.

"It was an honor and a privilege to have known Marvin. The industry has never witnessed a more honorable man, and his passion for helping others and his principled resolve serve as the foundation for the MLBPA to this day. …

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