It seems more and more likely that the fates and a cadre of mean-spirited committee members will conspire to keep Marvin Miller from his rightful place alongside the giants of baseball history.
As I write this the Hall of Fame is announcing that longtime major league executive Pat Gillick will be inducted into the Hall next summer in Cooperstown. Sadly, as has been the case now for several votes, the guy actually getting inducted will likely have his worthy story greatly overshadowed by the guy who didn’t.
(Original artwork of Miller by acclaimed artist Paul Madden is shown; www.maddenart.com. The actual artwork is in color.)
Marvin Miller, arguably the most transformative figure in postwar Major League Baseball, fell one vote short. This would be the fifth time that the legendary labor leader had fallen short of reaching what would seem to be an indisputable – if apparently not inevitable – honor in taking his place among the most significant figures in the game’s hallowed history.
His continued unfathomable exclusion had prompted the now-93-year-old Miller to ask that his name no longer be included on the ballot, a request that thankfully was not granted.
I say thankfully, because to their enduring credit, Hall of Fame officials have labored mightily over the last 10-15 years to find the appropriate procedural solution to the thorny questions surrounding “controversial” candidates facing the Veterans Committee. The tinkering with the voting has been as assiduous as it has been ineffectual, but certainly not for lack of trying. Still, I don’t think giving up represents any kind of acceptable outcome, and HOF officials have shown no inclination to embrace that shabby alternative, either.
With a wait now of another three years, the latest disappointment for Miller must have been particularly galling now matter how much he might have tried to prepare for it.
While I am disgusted with the horrible injustice that snubbing his candidacy fosters, I struggle with effectively directing my outrage. Can’t get mad at the HOF; its record is laudable if not unassailable in trying to fuss with the Veterans Committee voting.
I would love to see the five Committee members who decided Miller was unworthy to be required to explain their odd interpretation of what constitutes an important figure off the field. I’d settle for knowing who they were.
The logical assumption is that the four members from baseball management’s side nixed him, along with some other guy with a curious view on what constitutes responsible conduct when charged with such an important mission. The wretched result of this election virtually screams for some kind of accountability to ensure the credibility of the voting process.
That’s one of the inherent problems with granting anonymity in such situations. Readers are left to supply guesses, logical or otherwise, in the absence of real data. It ends up painting a lot of people with a broad brush, and one that might not be fairly applied.
I am sure Yankee fans are just as curious about George Steinbrenner’s status in all of this, but until the question of Marvin Miller gets properly addressed, I can’t work up much outrage about The Boss.
Try to write a coherent history of Major League Baseball for last half century without mentioning the name Marvin Miller. It can’t be done. I’ve got nothing against Pat Gillick, who apparently is a really nice guy along with being a standout judge of baseball talent, but that very same history of our National Pastime can be managed for the years 1965-2010 without his name even coming up.
Like a lot of things that take place in modern life, denying someone a rightful honor that might otherwise seem like an inevitability may feel like an acceptable way to exercise an animus in the short run. Ultimately, however, it merely diminishes the individuals doing the exercising.
Marvin Miller is a baseball hall of famer regardless of whether that designation is with upper case or lower-case letters. All the mean-spirited and petulant shenanigans of the Lilliputians on the Veterans Committee won’t change that.