The Norman Transcript

Sports

November 28, 2012

Former baseball union head Miller dead at 95

NEW YORK — Marvin Miller was a labor economist who never played a day of organized baseball. He preferred tennis. Yet he transformed the national pastime as surely as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, television and night games.

Miller, the union boss who won free agency for baseball players in 1975, ushering in an era of multimillion-dollar contracts and athletes who switch teams at the drop of a batting helmet, died Tuesday at 95. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer in August.

“I think he’s the most important baseball figure of the last 50 years,” former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said. “He changed not just the sport but the business of the sport permanently, and he truly emancipated the baseball player — and in the process all professional athletes. Prior to his time, they had few rights. At the moment, they control the games.”

In his 161⁄2 years as executive director of the Major League Players Association, starting in 1966, Miller fought owners on many fronts, not only achieving free agency but making the word “strike” stand for something other than a pitched ball.

Over the years, his influence was widely acknowledged if not always honored. Baseball fans argue over whether he made the game fairer or more nakedly mercenary, and the Hall of Fame repeatedly rejected him in what was attributed to lingering resentment among team owners.

Players attending the union’s annual executive board meeting in New York said their professional lives are Miller’s legacy.

“Anyone who’s ever played modern professional sports owes a debt of gratitude to Marvin Miller,” Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano said. “He empowered us as players. He gave us ownership of the game we play. Anyone who steps on a field in any sport, they have a voice because of him.”

Major League Baseball’s revenue has grown from $50 million in 1967 to $7.5 billion this year. At his last public speaking engagement, a discussion at New York University School of Law in April marking the 40th anniversary of the first baseball strike, Miller said free agency and resulting fan interest contributed to the increase. And both management and labor benefited, he said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Cardinals Red Sox Trade Cardinals land Lackey, shore up rotation

    BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday’s deadline....

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe Castiglione lends hardwood expertise to new football playoff committee

    Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione serves on the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee and will be the committee chair for the 2015-16 season....

    August 1, 2014

  • Norman football a hotbed for quarterbacks

    While Norman High searches for a new quarterback to take the reins, Norman North is entering the preseason with one of the most talented quarterbacks in the state in Oklahoma State commit John Kolar....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tiger in the hunt after day one at Bridgestone

    AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Not just from back surgery, but from making bogeys....

    August 1, 2014

  • Coaches rank Sooners No. 3

    The preseason USA Today coaches’ poll was released on Thursday. Oklahoma came in at No. 3....

    August 1, 2014

  • Defensive indefernce in Big-D as injury suffles front seven

    OXNARD, Calif. — Rookie pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence’s broken foot didn’t send the Dallas Cowboys scrambling because they’re already in rebuilding mode with their defensive line....

    August 1, 2014

  • Rams’ go with youth in secondary

    ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams secondary doesn’t have veteran leaders, high-dollar talent or big names. Those handling spots on the last line of defense are confident they won’t be a liability....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tigers go all in on Price

    DETROIT — When David Price was finally traded, it was to an unexpected bidder. The Detroit Tigers added another Cy Young Award winner to their star-studded rotation, acquiring Price from Tampa Bay in a blockbuster deal Thursday....

    August 1, 2014

  • Oakland lands Lester, Gomes in exchange for Cespedes

    OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics won the Jon Lester sweepstakes, acquiring the left-hander and outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes before Thursday’s trade deadline....

    August 1, 2014

  • Indians trade Justin Masterson to Cardinals

    CLEVELAND — The Indians had little choice but to give up Justin Masterson. The trade doesn’t mean they’re going to surrender the season....

    July 31, 2014

Facebook