In less than a week, the Veterans Committee vote for the Hall of Fame is going to be announced, and I am here to tell you that Marvin Miller better be one of those duly honored.
There are a total of 20 managers, umpires and executives on the two separate ballots, and I can easily imagine even a half dozen names eventually winding up with a plaque in Cooperstown, but if credibility of the voting process itself is the primary issue, then Miller needs to be the first one so enshrined. It’s not even a close call.
I know I’ve griped about this for many years, but it’s worthy of protest until it is resolved. There may not be anybody at all who holds a HOF plaque via the executive route who has had as great an impact on the game as Miller. Maybe Branch Rickey, or even Judge Landis, but his total record is something of a mixed bag, what with his reactionary stances on important matters like labor equity and breaking the color barrier.
And I know there are millions of fans who might feel that Miller’s role in restructuring how the game’s vast revenues are apportioned is a negative one, but that myopic view doesn’t change the reality of his impact.
The committee charged with the vote on Miller consists of seven either current or former team executives, three longtime sportswriters and BBWAA members and two former ballplayers (Robin Roberts and Tom Seaver).
After a preposterous vote total in 2003 left Miller behind Walter O’Malley (48 percent to 44 percent) and then a subsequent vote in 2007 again left Miller out in the cold (10 votes short), the voting procedure was altered yet again, leaving the decision to the 12-man committee.
It’s that structure that has reportedly led Miller to protest that the process was “rigged,” and also to ask the Hall to remove his name from the ballot. I think I understand that frustration, but I’m still glad he’s on the ballot.
I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of public and behind-the-scenes efforts to right this long-running travesty, and with Miller, now 92 and facing the kind of health issues one supposes you would confront if you lived that long, I’m hoping that decency will prevail.
Initially, when his name first came on the ballot, it was a question of fairness, but it’s long since evolved to something even more elemental than that.
It would be indecent to snub his candidacy once again.