One Nation under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime

By John Florio; Ouisie Shapiro | Go to book overview

13

In December 1967, the representatives of the Major League Baseball Players Association flew to baseball’s annual winter meetings in Mexico City. They went there in the hope of sitting down with team owners to discuss, among other things, a new minimum salary. But the owners ducked the players at every turn, responding to their overtures with nothing but ill will.

“The owners gave the players the back of their hands,” Marvin Miller wrote in his memoir, A Whole New Ballgame. “[They’d] been sidestepping our advances for almost a year. As 1968 drew near, the minimum salary for a major league player was still $6,000.”

Aware of the reputation Miller had built as a negotiator for the United Steelworkers, Bowie Kuhn, assistant counsel to the National League, sought advice. One of his first calls was to Harvard industrial relations professor James Healy, who, upon hearing the name Marvin Miller, advised his client, “Bowie, you need lots of help.”

Jim Bunning, a member of the players’ executive board, told the press, “I know that baseball people resent our new leader[,] … [but] I have news for them. Marvin Miller will be around for a long time.”

Bunning knew of what he spoke. In a show of support for Miller, the players extended his contract for three more years, locking him in through 1970. They also gave him a five-thousand- dollar raise, thus increasing his salary to fifty-five thousand dollars per year.

As for the Players Association, the central issues were not all salaryrelated. The union was still eager to fortify its meager pension plan. It also sought many of the same benefits won by industrial unions throughout the United States—most notably, the freedom to bring grievances to an impartial arbitrator.

The owners’ chief negotiator, John Gaherin, advised his clients to concede on this issue, explaining that they couldn’t present the com-

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One Nation under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword Bob Costas vii
  • A Note to the Reader ix
  • 1 1
  • 2 8
  • 3 23
  • 4 31
  • 5 43
  • 6 51
  • 7 58
  • 8 65
  • 9 72
  • 10 86
  • 11 100
  • 12 111
  • 13 126
  • 14 129
  • 15 138
  • 16 150
  • 17 156
  • 18 164
  • 19 173
  • 20 180
  • 21 192
  • Epilogue- 1975 201
  • Acknowledgments 203
  • Bibliography 205
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