Former players urge Miller be put in Hall of Fame
NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball players urged that Marvin Miller be put in the Hall of Fame as they spoke Monday night during a memorial for the union leader.
In an auditorium filled with Hall of Famers, dozens of retired and current players, baseball officials, agents and labor lawyers, the speakers praised the former baseball union head, who helped players gain free agency in the 1970s and created the path to multimillion-dollar salaries. Miller died in November at 95.
"It is a travesty he is not in the Hall of Fame,'' former major league player and manager Buck Martinez said.
Miller has been turned down five times by various Hall of Fame committees that considered baseball executives.
Jim Bouton, who entered the majors in 1962, was critical that Bowie Kuhn, baseball's commissioner from 1969-84, is in the Hall but Miller has been kept out.
"I think Bowie Kuhn was 0 for 67'' against Miller, Bouton said.
Former stars Dave Winfield and Joe Morgan were among those who spoke before a crowd of about 500 at New York University School of Law's Tishman Auditorium. Reggie Jackson, Keith Hernandez and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred were in the audience along the head of the Japanese baseball players' association and George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Micah Owings were among a handful of current players who attended.
A former economist for the United Steelworkers Union, Miller spent 16 1/2 years as executive director of the Major League Players Association, starting in 1966.
During Miller's tenure, the average major league salary increased from $19,000 to $241,000. It was $3.2 million last year.
"Every time somebody signs one of these wonderful contracts, and there are so many of them out there, I think before they get the first check they should have to write an essay on Marvin Miller,'' said Rusty Staub, a big leaguer from 1963-85.
Current union head Michael Weiner hosted the tribute, which included video clips of Miller reminiscing. Players spoke in order of when they made their big league debuts. Donald Fehr, who headed the union for most of the time between Miller and Weiner, was among the speakers.
"We could have searched 100 years and wouldn't have found a more perfect person for our situation,'' said Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman who played in the majors from 1963-84.
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