Will Miller make Hall of Fame this time?
Groundbreaking players union chief once again up for Cooperstown consideration
Marvin Miller, the long-time executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was a major factor in changing the financial face of baseball.
Is he a Hall of Famer?
He certainly had an impact on the game.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers was very much involved in the days when Miller was opening the door for players rights, is a believer that the labor leader should be enshrined in Cooperstown.
"The criteria for non-playing personnel is the impact they made on the sport," Selig has said more than once. "Therefore, Marvin Miller should be in the Hall on that basis."
But he isn't.
He has had ample opportunities. This is the seventh time since the voting of the Veterans Committee became public in 2003 that he will be considered. He is 0-for-6.
Miller is one of 12 candidates that the Historical Overview Committee placed on this year's Expansion Era ballot, which will be considered by a 12-member Veterans Committee at the Winter Meetings next month in Orlando, Fla.
Miller, who died a year ago, was disappointed at having not been elected, so much so that he had made a request to not be considered in future elections.
He didn't get his wish when he was alive, and he didn't get his wish this time, either.
Miller was upset when the Veterans Committee was redesigned prior to the 2011 vote. Instead of a player ballot and a manager/executive ballot, regardless of their roles in the game, candidates were placed into one of three categories based on the era in which they made their most impact: The Expansion Era (1973-present), The Golden Era (1947-72) and the Pre-Integration Era (1876-1946).
One era is voted on every three years.
This year it is the Expansion Era being considered, and Miller is on the ballot with former managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Billy Martin, former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and former players Steve Garvey, Dave Concepcion, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry and Ted Simmons.
When the new voting procedure was created, Miller was upset, believing it was rigged against him because, 1) he would be included on the same ballot as former players and, 2) there would be a heavy management influence on a 12-man committee consisting of baseball executives, historians and media members.
In the first year of Expansion Era voting, in 2011, Miller received 11 votes, one shy of the 75-percent support necessary for induction. It was the closest he had ever come. Pat Gillick, former general manager in Toronto, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Seattle, received 13 votes and was the only nominee enshrined.
It is worth nothing that twice before the Veteran Committee vote was limited to living Hall of Famers, many of whom had been the constituents whom Miller served so well. In 2003, he was listed on 44.3 percent of the ballots cast, and in the first of two elections in 2007 he received 63 percent of the vote.
How he will fare this year remains a subject of debate. But what cannot be debated is the impact he had on the game.
He took players who had been bound to their teams for as long as the teams wanted and were limited in contract bargaining power, and gave them the leverage of arbitration and free agency.
His backers will say he brought baseball into its financial golden age, forcing the owners and players to eventually work together to grow revenues. And he left baseball as the only major team sport without a salary cap.
A former head of the United Steelworkers union, Miller served as the head of the MLBPA from 1966-82, negotiating baseball's first Collective Bargaining Agreement in 1968.
His detractors will point to the skyrocketing salaries of players and the bitter labor battles fought during his time, which began a stretch in which baseball experienced eight work stoppages from 1972-95, including the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.
There's no question he belongs in the labor negotiators hall of fame.
But should he have a spot in Cooperstown as well?
Time will tell.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.