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Miller's Snub: Time to Overhaul Veterans Committee (again) PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 03 December 2007 07:28

Maury BrownThe results of this year’s Veterans Committee vote has been released, and with that we see former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss and managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth elected.

Snubbed (again) is Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLB Player’s Association, who’s shadow and mark on the game is so large, it staggers the imagination that he’s not been elected prior.

(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Marvin Miller)

Or, should our minds be boggled?

The time has arrived for the make up of the Veterans Committee to be reevaluated and overhauled. As Miller himself said to Murray Chass of the NY Times this past week:

“People have asked me about it,” Miller said, speaking of the committee’s makeup. “I don’t know why they did this except, other than me, it makes sense to have a group like this because they are a management-oriented group voting on management people.”

And therein is the crux of the problem. Therein lies the travesty.

If the committee’s makeup is wholly management-based (and I'm not talking former players, but rather representatives from the front office of the MLBPA) is to say that the influence of the MLBPA is nothing more than window dressing. At least consider adding someone like Dick Moss to the committee. Even a token member would remove at least a smidgen of what appears to be bias.

(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Dick Moss)

Shortly after I published this column, a statement by Donald Fehr, the executive director of the MLBPA expressed his disappointment, and placed an exclamation point on what I have expressed here:

“Because he was the Players' voice, and represented them vigorously, Marvin Miller was the owners' adversary. This time around, a majority of those voting were owner representatives, and results of the vote demonstrate the effect that had.  In the last vote, Marvin received 63% of the votes, this time he got 25%.  By contrast, Bowie Kuhn received 17% of the votes last time, but got 83% this time."

"I think it was rigged, but not to keep me out. It was rigged to bring some of these in,'' Miller said by telephone after being informed of the results by The Associated Press. "It's not a pretty picture.''

The interesting sidebar to this is the election of Bowie Kuhn, a man that can best be described as being a reactionary to Miller’s bold entrance and the player’s ascension into the most powerful sports union in history. Arguably, Kuhn was simply a man at a certain place at a certain time. The history was made by almost exclusively by others on his watch (the induction of O’Malley highlights this tremendously), not by the man himself. Kuhn fought tooth and nail against the changes Miller proposed.

(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Bowie Kuhn)

While it is good to see that at least this vote garnered inductions, Miller’s clear snub will be the focus today and until the time the next vote is conducted. Sadly, given Miller’s age, there are the odds that he will have passed away before then.

Maybe Miller isn’t concerned about not being in the Hall. After all, most anyone that knows the pulse of the game understands the incredible mark he has made on upon it – a mark that continues today. It seems that those on the Veterans Committee have chosen to look the other way, or have no understanding of the pulse of the game today, somehow bitter of Miller's change, or still stuck in the past to the point of ignoring the present.

Given that, it’s time to reevaluate the Veterans Committee makeup (yet, again. See changes made to this year's system from the system prior below). Until such day as key individuals from labor are on the committee, incredible gaffs such as the non-induction of Marvin Miller will continue to take place. Given the enormous influence that the MLBPA has had on the game of baseball, it is imperative that they have a seat at the table on the committee. How Marvin Miller could not be considered part of baseball’s “fame” staggers the imagination.

As Fehr closed in his statement today, “The failure to elect Marvin Miller is an unfortunate and regrettable decision.  Without question, the Hall of Fame is poorer for it.” 

CHANGES TO THE VETERANS COMMITTEE SYSTEM 

PREVIOUS RULE

NEW RULE

Electorate: All living Hall of Fame members, Frick and Spink Award winners (total of 80-plus) cast ballots on Players ballot

Electorate: All living Hall of Fame members, Frick and Spink Award winners (total of 80-plus) cast ballots on Composite ballot

Electorate: All living Hall of Fame members (63) cast ballots on Players ballot

Electorate: Committee of 16 individuals (Hall of Famers, veteran writers, executives and historians) cast ballots on a managers/umpires ballot
 

Players ballot: Voted on every two years, in odd years (2003, 2005, 2007, etc). Anyone to receive votes on 75% of ballots cast was elected

Composite ballot: Voted on every four years (2003, 2007, etc.). Anyone to receive votes on 75% of ballots cast was elected
 

Players ballot: Voted on every two years, in odd years, starting in 2009 (2009, 2011, 2013, etc). Anyone to receive votes on 75% of ballots cast will be elected

Managers/umpires ballot: Voted on every two years in even years, starting in 2008 (2008, 2010, 2012, etc.). Anyone to received votes on 75% of ballots cast will be elected

Eligible candidates: All players with 10 or more years experience. Any candidate on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list was not eligible for consideration Eligible candidates: All players with 10 or more years experience, whose careers began in 1943 or later. Any candidate on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list is not eligible for consideration
Pre-World War II Players: Part of Player ballot

 
Pre-World War II Players: Will be reviewed by a Board-appointed committee of 12 individuals (Hall of Famers, veteran writers, and historians) every five years beginning in 2009
BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee narrowed list of players to 200

BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee narrowed list of managers, umpires and executives to 60
 

BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee narrows list of players to 20; Simultaneously, a screening committee of six Hall of Famers choose five players; list of players to contain 20-25 names, depending on duplicate results

BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee narrows list of managers and umpires to 10

A screening committee of 60 BBWAA members narrowed list of players from 200 to 25; Simultaneously, a screening committee of six Hall of Famers chose five players; final ballot contained 25-30 names, depending on duplicate results

A screening committee of 60 BBWAA members narrowed list of managers, umpires and executives to 15

The living Hall of Fame members, acting as its own screening committee, narrows list of 25-30, to a final ballot of 10, by paper ballot.

No screening committee for managers and umpires.


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available writer for other media outlets.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
 
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