"It was very disappointing to learn this morning that, once again, Marvin Miller was not elected to the Hall of Fame," Don Fehr, the union's current executive director and an attorney under Miller during the 1970s and early '80s, said in a statement. "Over the entire scope of the last half of the 20th century, no other individual had as much influence on the game of baseball as did Marvin Miller.
"Under his leadership, the Major League Baseball Players Association became an effective and forceful representative of the players, and the players, acting together, were able to successfully obtain appropriate working conditions. That the MLBPA remains an effective representative of the players today, more than a quarter century after Marvin retired, is a testament to the enduring quality of the organization he and the Players created."
Commissioner Bud Selig, an owner of the Milwaukee Brewers during Kuhn's annual battles with Miller and a current member of the Hall's board of directors, echoed Fehr's feelings.
"I was surprised that Marvin Miller did not receive the required support given his important impact on the game," he said in his own statement that also praised the election of Kuhn, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and owners Walter O'Malley and Barney Dreyfuss.
Kuhn was the ying to Miller's yang during his 15 years as commissioner, which spanned 1969-84. During that period of time, as the union began to flex its muscles, a work stoppage came as part of every collective bargaining season, culminating in the 1981 strike that took a 50-day, 171-game chunk out of the regular season and split it into halves.
During his years in office, Kuhn fought against overturning the reserve clause in the basic player contract, which was used by owners to bind players to their respective teams. Curt Flood took MLB to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the legality of that clause, and although he lost the case, the high court put baseball on notice that the practice was a restraint of trade.
Kuhn's stance not withstanding, by 1977 an arbiter had ruled in favor of the union and abolished the reserve clause to usher in the era of free agency. Though Kuhn said it would be the sport's death knell, the average salary nearly tripled -- from $51,501 in 1976 to $143,756 in 1980. This past year, it was a record $2.8 million and baseball's gross revenue was $6.075 billion, also a record.
Under the former Veterans Committee format, which included all of the living Hall of Famers, the players evidently recognized the disparity. Before he passed away in March, Kuhn fell far short of the 61 votes needed to be elected, receiving 17.3 percent as his name appeared on 14 of the 81 ballots cast.
The switch this time around was stark, but not unexpected considering the makeup of the current 12-man committee.
It included two Hall of Fame players (Monte Irvin and Harmon Killebrew); three veteran media members (Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News), and seven former and current executives (one-time American League president Bobby Brown, former Red Sox president John Harrington, plus current executives Jerry Bell of the Twins, Bill DeWitt of the Cardinals, Bill Giles of the Phillies, David Glass of the Royals and Andy MacPhail of the Orioles).
"Because he was the Players' voice, and represented them vigorously, Marvin Miller was the owners' adversary," Fehr said. "This time around, a majority of those voting were owner representatives, and results of the vote demonstrate the effect that had. In the last vote, Marvin received 63 percent of the votes, this time he got 25 percent. By contrast, Bowie Kuhn received 17 percent of the votes last time, but got 83 percent this time.
"The failure to elect Marvin Miller is an unfortunate and regrettable decision. Without question, the Hall of Fame is poorer for it."