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Sports The Schmuck Stops Here

One more vote for Marvin Miller for the Hall of Fame

Since the news broke that baseball union pioneer Marvin Miller passed away this week, there has been a growing media chorus advocating his induction in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

It certainly is long overdue.

Miller changed baseball for the better and made a sport full of enemies during the 1960s and '70s. He redistributed the wealth of a generation of stingy baseball owners, who were not forward-thinking enough to see the the avalanche of money that would bury everyone in the game after the reserve clause was overturned.

It was messy at times and the owners tried for a couple of decades to regain full control of baseball's finances, but all you have to do is look at the multi-billion-dollar media deal that the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to make and it's hard to deny that Miller's dogged fight to gain free agency rights for the players ended up making the game more attractive and led to more competitive balance than existed during the game's feudal era.

The reason Miller is not in the Hall of Fame is because the Veterans Committee was -- for the longest time -- made up of old executives and players from the previous era. The executives still burned over their loss of control and the old players were probably a bit envious of all the money being made by the new generation of players because of free agency and salary arbitration.

The new Hall of Fame induction process for non-playing personnel should make it easier for Miller to get to Cooperstown, where he can join a lot of people who deserve to be there a lot less than he does.

This isn't really about anybody's political philosophy. I don't care if you're pro-union or anti-union. This is about recognizing that Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber was right on point when he said that Miller did more to change the game of baseball than just about anybody other than Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.

Maybe I'm biased. I covered many of those labor fights and saw first-hand how Miller (and his successor Donald Fehr) built the strongest union in professional sports. Though it may be hard for the average Joe to stomach Alex Rodriguez making $30 million per year, the alternative was all that money going to a bunch of old guys in a suits. Nobody shows up at the ballpark or turns on the TV hoping to see them.

The owners are making plenty.

The players are making plenty.

There are lots of reasons for that, including the tremendous growth of media revenues and the gentrification of sports fans who can pay huge ticket prices and buy luxury suites, but there is no denying that Marvin Miller had a major impact that should be properly recognized in Cooperstown.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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