Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and... Marvin Miller

Lawrence Bush
April 13, 2018

Marvin Miller, who directed the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1966 to 1983, was born on this date in 1917 in the Bronx. He was the leading economist and negotiator for the United Steelworkers when he was elected head of the MLBPA in 1966, and within two years had negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement with the teams’ owners. Miller’s accomplishments included the establishment of arbitration in labor disputes, the establishment of free agency for baseball players, and the increase of player salaries from an average of $19,000 to $241,000 per year. Broadcaster Red Barber said that Marvin Miller, “along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, is one of the two or three most important men in baseball history.” Still, Miller has three times been denied admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame, thanks to management control over the admission process. “Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame if the players have to break down the doors to get him in,” said Hank Aaron.

“Marvin’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame is a national disgrace.” —Tom Seaver

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.