point came in the spring of 1959 when the team representatives met in Tampa and
decided to end the arrangement with Lewis. I was the one who had to tell him,
and that is when he called me an owner's man. I was not, though heaven knows
Bob Carpenter, the Phillies' president, wanted Lewis out and made no secret
about that. But it was the players themselves who decided to let Lewis go. I
will say this for Lewis: he was the first man to make the owners see that we
meant business. Stan Musial was a great one for pointing this out later
whenever he heard any of us grumbling about Lewis.
The departure of
Lewis created a vacuum, and I said as much when the player representatives met
in 1959 at the All-Star Game. We were forever coming together for a day, or two
at most, and then scattering. I suggested that to add continuity to our
position we should hire a full-time representative and set up an office for
him. The man should not be a lawyer with other clients, I argued, but someone
whose sole job it was to keep in touch with our affairs.
Nothing came of
this suggestion at the time, and it was not too long after that that I was no
longer a player representative, or even a National Leaguer, having left for
Association was a pretty passive outfit in the early 1960s. As disgust with the
situation grew, my view that we needed our own man in our own office,
preferably in New York, began to catch on. Among the matters that concerned me
and others most was the pension plan and the TV money it depended upon. A
nagging thought told me that the owners would try to lay their hands on our 60%
in some future contract. They did try it, too, the first time in 1967.
Fortunately, by then we had installed Miller as our director. He saw to it that
the owners did not succeed. With a new contract coming up this year, he is
fighting the battle again.
We got Miller
after extensive searching. In the winter of 1964 I telephoned Bob Friend of the
Pirates, the National League representative, who was meeting with the team
representatives and Judge Cannon of Milwaukee. Cannon was filling Lewis' role
as well as he could without leaving the bench to do so. I told Bob that I would
like to join the meeting as an adviser. The players agreed, and I wound up on a
committee of three to seek out likely prospects for the position of executive
director of the association.
considered some interesting people, including Judge Cannon (who had strong
support from the beginning), Hank Greenberg, Bob Feller (until we all decided
the man should not be a former player) and Chub Feeney, vice-president of the
San Francisco Giants, who was flattered but not interested. The committee also
sought advice from the man who is now President of the United States. Richard
Nixon was mighty nice about it—he's a real fan—and I could see he would do
anything to help us or have his law firm help us. But we were still faced with
the problem of finding a full-time representative, and the search went on.
That is when I
called George Taylor at the University of Pennsylvania. I had never met the
man, but I knew that he had settled numerous labor disputes and had a
reputation for sizing up men who were experienced in negotiating labor
agreements. I told Dr. Taylor that we wanted a strong man of established
character and one whom we could count on to represent the best interests of the
game as well as the players.
immediately Taylor recommended Miller, an economist and assistant to David
McDonald and I. W. Abel of the United Steelworkers. We interviewed Miller and,
as far as I was concerned, he was the man for the job, but he was only one of
six we put on our final list of possible candidates. At this point I called the
then-commissioner of baseball, William D. Eckert, and told him I was sending
him the list and would appreciate it if he ran a check on each of them. I said,
"If there is anyone on the list you think we should not choose because he
might be bad for the game, then he won't be chosen."
Eckert agreed to
the check and later told me that all six persons were fine, including Miller.
Yet we were soon to see the owners, National League President Warren Giles,
American League President Joe Cronin and Eckert himself, all close to foaming
at the mouth at the idea of Marvin Miller, a union man, representing the
players. They acted as though Miller would demand time and a half for
extra-inning games and insist that starting lineups be based on the principle
of seniority. The owners are cry-babying that way to this day, which is one
reason why baseball is in so much trouble.
I think the
owners would have preferred Judge Cannon, and it is interesting that when the
players' representatives from the 20 teams met with our committee, they voted
to offer the job to Cannon. He turned it down, though, whereupon Miller