Sport: Baseball Official/Administrator
Country: United States
Born: April 14, 1917, in New York, New
Died: November 27, 2012
Marvin Miller is the labor negotiator who changed the character of elite
sports. The first executive director of Major League Baseball’s Players
(MLBPA), from 1966 to 1981, Miller presided over the suspension
of baseball’s “reserve clause” that bound players to
the team that held
their contract, the introduction of “salary arbitration” in
disputes, and the birth of “free agency” that allowed a player
to seek the best offer for his services.
The MLBPAwon $20 million in salary and pension benefits in Miller’s
first six years. Minimum salaries went from $6,000 to $13,500, travel was
first class, liberal meal allowances were initiated, and players’ financial
gains soared directly and indirectly from increased pension benefits. By
the time Miller stepped down as executive director, players’ salaries
more than $500,000!
Miller spent the better part of his adult life in labor management. Prior
to his involvement with baseball, he was associated with the United
Steelworkers of America for 16 years in various positions, including as
chief economist and associate director of research.
Miller negotiated the MLBPA’s first five labor contracts and successfully
led players in the strikes of 1972 (13 days) and 1981 (50 days). His 16
years as the MLBPA executive director had a direct and irrevocable influence
on baseball and drew the blueprint for significant changes in all professional
and amateur sports.
Wrote Pulitizer Prize–winning columnist Red Smith: “When you
speak of Babe Ruth, he is one of the two men, in my opinion, who changed
baseball the most. The second most influential man in the history of baseball
is Marvin Miller.”
Miller was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2019.
He published his autobiography, A Whole Different Ball Game (Birch
Lane Press) in 1991 with co-author Nill James.