Marvin Miller, The First Executive Director Of The Major League Baseball Players Association, Dead At 95 After Year-Long Battle With Cancer

MLBPA director Marvin Miller (c.) announces end of baseball strike on April 13, 1972 as (from left) Boston’s Gary Peters, Dodger Wes Parker, counsel Dick Moss, and Cardinal Joe Torre look on.

Source: Bill Madden / New York Daily News

Marvin Miller, the baseball players “Moses” who freed them from the shackles of servitude and won them previously-unimaginable gains in salary, working conditions and licensing and pension benefits through hard-nosed collective bargaining, died early Tuesday in Manhattan after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 95.

As the first executive director of the Players Association, from 1966-84, Miller retired undefeated in his many battles with the baseball owners who had been accustomed to running the game under their own terms for more than a century. Their one consoling “victory” over him was denying him his rightful place in the Hall of Fame as one of the most impactful figures in the game’s history.

Under Miller’s leadership as their union chief, the average players’ salary went from $10,000 in 1967 to $329,000 by 1984 while the minimum salary increased from $6,000 to $40,000. All of this was due to two monumental gains for the players which Miller was able to attain through both collective bargaining and the courts – free agency and salary arbitration.

A native of Brooklyn who grew up a staunch Dodger fan, Miller had had a decorated record as a trade unionist – as a labor negotiator for the International Association of Machinists, the United Auto Workers and as staff economist for the United Steelworkers – when a group of major league players, Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts and Harvey Kuenn, approached him in early 1966 about becoming executive director of their newly-formed players union. At the time, they told him, as an appeasement to the vast majority of conservative players, they were prepared to offer the job of general counsel of the union to former vice president Richard Nixon – a dealbreaker for Miller, an avowed liberal Democrat, who informed them he could not work with Nixon.

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