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Marvin Miller 1917--2012


It was strange that much of the coverage of Marvin Miller's death—at the age of 95 of liver cancer on Nov. 27—centered upon his absence from baseball's Hall of Fame. That institution has the feel of a gated community maintained by the game's oligarchy. Miller's concerns and accomplishments, particularly during his transformative tenure as the executive director of the Major League Players Association, from 1966 to '82, were firmly rooted in more democratic ideals.

Miller was a master of power dynamics, and he knew that labor victories are generally won through an unrelenting application of pressure. In his 16 years as the union's leader, he gradually turned baseball from a fiefdom into a business in which profits are fairly shared, obtaining sports' first collective bargaining agreement (in 1968), players' rights to salary arbitration (in '70) and, most significant, free agency (in '75).

Miller belongs in the Hall, and perhaps those who have denied him will come to their senses when he is next up for a vote, in 2013. What really matters is that his legacy—as the visionary behind a labor system that has resulted in unprecedented prosperity for all parties—was long ago cemented.