Marvin Miller was always a controversial figure in his time as the head of the baseball players union. He was a die-hard union man who came to sports from the United Steelworkers. In this era of overpaid free agents and millionaire bench warmers, it's easy to forget that ballplayers used to be little more than indentured servants. Marvin Miller was the one who changed that. He died today at the age of 95.
Despite being one of the most consequential off-field figures in baseball history, Miller is not in the Hall Of Fame. I suspect that being the scourge of the owners may have something to do with that. That's as good a reason as any for his enshrinement but the real reason is that he changed the game in a major way.
As much as I grumble about overpaid players, Miller's legacy is a positive one: ballplayers have the right to control their own careers, which brought the American way to the National Pastime.
It's a pity that most current players know little or nothing about the man who made them rich and spared them from having to get a j-o-b in the off-season. I have some nostalgia for those days: it was always cool when an announcer told you what a player did in the off-season. Richie Hebner, who played for the Pirates, Phillies, Mets, Tigers and Cubs had my favorite ballplayer job: he was a gravedigger. I am not making that up.
Update: I just read Keith Olbermann's post about Miller's passing. It's a good 'un. I've missed Keith even if he is a bit of a malaka but he's *our* malaka...