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05/22/08 9:00 AM ET
Union icon Miller asks off Hall ballot
Former Players Association director denied in last election
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982, has asked the National Baseball Hall of Fame not to place his name on any future ballots for consideration to be elected to the shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Miller was turned down last year by a vote of the reconstituted 12-member Veterans Committee, which considered executives and pioneers only for enshrinement. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley and Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss were the three voted into the Hall from that particular 10-person ballot.
Miller received three votes, while Kuhn, his arch nemesis from the era, was elected as 10 out of the 12 members of the committee voted in his favor. Like all Hall elections, a candidate needed 75 percent of the vote to be elected.
"Paradoxically, I'm writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again," Miller said in a letter sent to the Baseball Writers Association of America, which has only partial input on this particular election. "The anti-union bias of the powers who control the Hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining.
"As former executive director [retired since 1983] of the players' union that negotiated these changes, I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged Veterans Committee whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while offering a pretense of a democratic vote. It is an insult to baseball fans, historians, sports writers and especially to those baseball players who sacrificed and brought the game into the 21st century. At the age of 91 I can do without a farce."
Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall, said he hadn't directly received Miller's letter, but had been read the text of it by a member of the media who received a copy.
Idelson said he planned to reach out to the 91-year-old Miller and discuss the matter. The next election of executives/pioneers is two years away, and by then the committee will probably be reconstituted.
"Whether Marvin Miller gets into the Hall of Fame or not will not tarnish his legacy," Idelson said. "The committee deemed his contributions worthy enough to place him on the ballot. Several committee members noted how many votes he had received in the previous elections. The Hall of Fame is an historical museum and will continue to consider those who made important contributions to the game."
Idelson added that Miller's wishes would certainly be communicated to the committee when the time comes, but just as no one can dictate who should be elected to the Hall, no one can dictate who should be nominated for consideration, either.
In a previous election conducted under a different format earlier in 2007, Miller received 63 percent (or 51 of 81 votes), missing election by a small margin.
The latest committee did its own screening, placing Miller's name among the 10 nominated, and then cast the votes, electing the three.
The committee was selected by the Hall's board of directors and consisted of Hall of Famers Monte Irvin and Harmon Killebrew; former executives Bobby Brown (American League) and John Harrington (Red Sox); current executives Jerry Bell (Twins), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals) and Andy MacPhail (Orioles); and veteran writers Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.
The three writers were recommended to the board by the BBWAA, which conducts the annual election of players who are on the ballot from five to 20 years after their careers have ended. This year, Rich "Goose" Gossage was the only one elected.
Three players who were union stalwarts during Miller's tenure -- Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson and Tom Seaver -- were offered seats on the committee that elected executives, but declined the positions. Roberts, in fact, was on the committee that originally selected Miller to become executive director of the union.