Former players urge Miller be put in Hall of Fame
A former economist for the United Steelworkers Union, Miller spent 16 1/2 years as executive director of the Major League Players Association, starting in 1966.
During Miller's tenure, the average major league salary increased from $19,000 to $241,000. It was $3.2 million last year. Players remembered his soft-spokeness, how when speaking on the field during spring training he kept lowering his voice to force players to crane their necks to hear.
"Every time somebody signs one of these wonderful contracts, and there are so many of them out there, I think before they get the first check they should have to write an essay on Marvin Miller," said Rusty Staub, a big leaguer from 1963-85.
Current union head Michael Weiner hosted the tribute, which included video clips taped in 2010 of Miller reminiscing. Players spoke in order of when they made their big league debuts.
"We could have searched 100 years and wouldn't have found a more perfect person for our situation," said Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman who played in the majors from 1963-84.
Donald Fehr, who served as Miller's general counsel from 1977-82 and then headed the union from 1983-09, said he could read Miller's mood by what drink he ordered at lunch: a Tom Collins signaled a happy mood, a martini meant he was perplexed and Old Grand-Dad Bourbon was a sign of problems.
"The reason I think he is remembered as he is, is that the baseball players' association became a symbol, it became a symbol of what a union could be if it was run right," said Fehr, current head of the NHL players' union.
Martinez talked about a telephone call he received from former Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley during the 1985 labor negotiations.
"You tell Marvin to stick by his guns," Martinez recalled Finley saying. "You guys are doing the right thing."
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