… Miller said things about Bowie Kuhn that were unfair and personal, but the fact is that Busch, Charles Oscar Finley and several other owners created Miller with their arrogance and 19th-century thinking. But what he, Moss and eventually Donald Fehr and Gene Orza did for the players was historic and has a rightful place in Cooperstown, N.Y., because Marvin was a giant figure in the game’s history and evolution, which the museum so brilliantly details.
The barons who so hated Miller and all that he represented were so consumed with maintaining their control over players that they never envisioned what would happen when, finally, the Messersmith-McNally Decision was handed down in January 1976 and the business changed forever. Until a new collective bargaining agreement was negotiated at the All-Star break in Philadelphia during the summer of ’76, most Major League players were going to be free agents at the end of the season; the newly created system allowed for the six-year waiting period before a player is free to play where and for whom he wants.
What happened was that the attention on baseball completely changed. It became a 12-month business. Free agency was on the front pages of sports sections from November until Spring Training, beginning with that first free-agent class, which included Reggie Jackson, Don Gullett, Bobby Grich, et al.
So what Miller did for baseball and owners was take it out of what players referred to as “the plantation cocoon” and make it a ton of money. Free agency made baseball a far different entertainment entity. Oh, it seemed as if management forever kept trying to turn back the clock, hiring Ray Grebey, Dick Ravitch and all kinds of hired guns to set the Players Association back on its heels. …
December 5, 2010
Peter Gammons’ Marvin Miller article
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