November 27, 2012

Marvin Miller, union head who revolutionized sports, dies at 95

The former leader of the Major League Players Association won free agency for players in 1975, forever changing sports.

The Associated Press

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Marvin Miller speaks to reporters after rejecting a proposal to end a baseball strike in this July 16, 1981, photo.

AP

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This 1972 photo shows Marvin Miller, left, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and Joe Torre, of the St. Louis Cardinals, talking to reporters after Miller announced an end to a baseball strike.

AP

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Miller's next opportunity for election is December 2013.

Former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said Miller should be inducted "without question."

"He changed the game of baseball," Ueberroth said. "He was very tough, but he was very fair in the end."

Miller was born in New York, the son of a salesman in the heavily unionized garment district. He was born with a withered right arm, which didn't prevent him from playing tennis into his 90s. His mother was a schoolteacher. He studied economics at Miami University in Ohio and New York University.

He entered the labor field in 1950 as an associate director of research for the United Steelworkers Union. In 1960, he was promoted to assistant to union president David McDonald. When McDonald lost a hotly contested election, Miller began looking for a new job.

Miller remained current on baseball events right up until his death, never hesitating to criticize owners for collusion and the union for agreeing to drug testing.

While baseball has had labor peace since 1995, turmoil has engulfed the other major U.S. pro leagues in recent years.

"Marvin exemplified guts, tenacity and an undying love for the players he represented," said DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL players union. "He was a mentor to me, and we spoke often and at length. His most powerful message was that players would remain unified during labor strife if they remembered the sacrifices made by previous generations."

Miller is survived by his daughter, Susan; son, Peter; and a grandson. His wife, Terry, died in 2009. Susan Miller said her father wanted his body donated to science. She said the family had not decided whether to hold a service.

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A 2003 photo of Marvin Miller at his apartment in New York.

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