|Marvin Miller gets another chance to land in Hall of Fame|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 December 2007 07:59|
``Hey Miller!'' an acquaintance yelled as he walked down a cramped aisle. ``You in the Hall of Fame yet?''
Not yet. But maybe come Monday.
The Hall of Fame's latest revamped Veterans Committee announces its vote Monday, and Miller is among 10 on the executives/pioneers ballot. When all Hall of Famers were on the committee, he fell 10 votes shy in February. But with the format change that makes a majority of the panel people with management ties, it's hard to tell how he will fare.
``The surface examination tells you that the chances have gone down,'' he said over lunch Friday.
Putting him in the Hall would be baseball's equivalent of Romanov descendants erecting a statue of Lenin in the living room. But he understands why the Hall wants executives to consider former officials, even though he calls the format ``not quite kosher.''
``What makes sense for that makes no sense at all when you talk about me, because they're not my peers, it's as simple as that,'' he said. ``But I understand the dilemma. What's the solution? They're going to appoint a committee just for me? That's ridiculous. While I think it's an eminently unfair and unbalanced playing field, I understand it. It makes a certain amount of sense.''
At 90, Miller is 26 years removed from his last negotiation. But he's still feisty, plays tennis regularly and is not shy to express opinions.
Miller thinks many of today's players have little knowledge of what the sport was like before the players' association. That, he said, hampers his successor, Donald Fehr.
``He's left with a union of players not one of whom ever had major league experience without a union. Not one. The handicap and breaks that that puts on union leadership, you can't imagine because you've got an unknown number who think that the tooth fairy brought all this. They have no idea of what it would be like without a union,'' he said. ``I would love to have a conversation with a Curt Schilling, ask him where his salary came from, where his protections against arbitrary treatment came from. Anything. Or where the pension that he will eventually get came from. He has no idea.''
Miller thinks players made a mistake in 2002 when they agreed to drug testing.
``I would never have agreed to mandatory testing of all people with no showing of probable cause to believe so. Never,'' he said. ``That's a betrayal of everything I believe.''
And he faults George Mitchell, hired by commissioner Bud Selig in March 2006 to investigate steroids in baseball. Because Mitchell is a director of the Boston Red Sox, Miller said he has no chance of being impartial.
``Here I blame the media. They're treating him as if he were something special, and he isn't,'' Miller said. ``The record clearly shows he's been a management appointee all along. He has a conflict of interest a mile long. But like too many people in our society these days, he doesn't recognize it.''
Miller also doesn't rule out that Selig will suspend players implicated by Mitchell, even if their alleged conduct occurred before it was banned by baseball.
``I don't know how much influence his lawyers have on him,'' Miller said. ``His lawyers are going to tell him, `No,' but that doesn't mean he won't do it.''
When the man called by some the players' Moses was hired as executive director of their union in 1966, the average salary was $19,000. But he overturned the reserve clause in 1975 and changed baseball and all team sports.
When he retired at the end of 1982, the average salary was $241,000. Now it's pushing $3 million.
Even Selig backs Miller's candidacy.
``The criteria for non-playing personnel is the impact they made on the sport. Therefore Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame on that basis,'' Selig told a meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors last spring. ``Maybe there are not a lot of my predecessors who would agree with that, but if you're looking for people who make an impact on the sport, yes, you would have to say that.''
After Bill Mazeroski, a career .260 hitter with a great glove, was elected in 2001, the Hall scrapped the old Veterans Committee, which had 15 members in most years and was accused of cronyism. A new panel was formed that included all living Hall of Famers, the two dozen or so writers and broadcasters in the Hall and two members from the old committee whose terms had not expired. Players were put on one ballot, executives, umpires, managers and pioneers on another.
But the new committee didn't elect anyone when it voted in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Executives were on a four-year cycle. Miller received 35 of 79 votes (44 percent) in 2003, well short of the 75 percent needed, then jumped up to 51 of 81 in 2007 (63 percent), second behind umpire Doug Harvey (64 percent).
The Hall then changed the format again last summer. Managers and umpires were siphoned off into one ballot, executives and pioneers into another and players into a third. Separate panels of 12-16 members would consider each of the first two groups, and they were to meet Sunday at Nashville, Tenn., ahead of the winter meetings. The next Veterans players vote will be late next year.
Miller will be judged by a 12-member committee that includes Hall of Famers Monte Irvin and Harmon Killebrew; former AL president Bobby Brown; former Red Sox boss John Harrington; current executives Jerry Bell (Twins), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals) and Andy MacPhail (Orioles); and reporters Paul Hagen (Philadelphia Daily News), Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and Hal McCoy (Dayton Daily News).
Others on the executives ballot include former commissioner Bowie Kuhn - Miller's chief nemesis - and former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley. Kuhn's vote total dropped from 20 to 14 in the last two ballots and O'Malley's fell from 38 to 36.