December 8, 2019

Marvin Miller Elected To Hall Of Fame; His Family Will Not Participate In Ceremony

"If they vote me in after I'm gone, please let everyone you know it is against my wishes and tell them if I was alive I would turn it down." — Marvin Miller (1917-2012)
Marvin Miller, the legendary executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday. Miller was chosen to lead the newly-formed players union in 1966 and he served for 16½ years.

The recognition of Miller's stature by the baseball establishment comes decades too late. This was Miller's eighth time on a Hall ballot. The fact that Miller received the bare minimum for induction (12 of 16 votes (75%)) makes it seem like the Modern Era Committee offered grudging acknowledgement: Okay, we'll finally let him squeeze in, but he's not getting even one vote more than necessary.

In 2013, Peter Miller wrote:
No one in our family will attend or speak at any HOF ceremony regardless of the outcome of the HOF vote. It's important for union members and the media to understand why, so that the story does not get misrepresented as "sour grapes," personal pique, or anything of the sort.

My father felt that the essence of the honor, if any, was in celebrating the MLBPA's accomplishments in changing Baseball from a management-dominated industry to one characterized by an equal labor-management relationship, a change resulting in a vastly more competitive game, fan interest, and increased wealth for all, including the owners of baseball clubs.

These changes were brought about by the concerted action of union members, the baseball players themselves. Although he enjoyed the recognition, my father did what he did not for fame and glory, but for justice and for equitable labor-management relations. To treat that as something incidental, as of lesser value than personal fame, is really to dishonor him and the players.

My father's wishes, stated in writing, and reaffirmed to me in person many times, and for the last time within weeks of his death, were that he did not want to be on the HOF ballot. In a 2008 letter to the Baseball Writers Association, he wrote:
"Paradoxically, I'm writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again. The anti-union bias of the powers who control the Hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining." ...
The May 29, 2008 Baseball Prospectus blog quoted my father on what he regarded as his family's role in carrying out his intentions:
"If considered and elected, I will not appear for the induction if I'm alive. If they proceed to try to do this posthumously, my family is prepared to deal with that."
Our course of action couldn't be clearer. I'm sure there will be those who want to "do the right thing" out of guilt, or because of some newly discovered perception of historical accuracy. But nobody needs the HOF to understand my father's place in baseball and labor history. The historical record is widely available on the Web and in the Marvin Miller archive at NYU. His portrait is at the Supreme Court in Washington DC, which is more accessible than Cooperstown.
Susan Miller said of her father's induction: "It would have been a great honor 20 years ago."

1 comment:

allan said...

Posnanski: "There was plenty of time for him to be celebrated while he was still living. It feels now as if baseball people are happy to put him in the Hall but did not want to give him the big pulpit to speak."