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Baseball (again) snubs labor leader Marvin Miller

I love baseball, and these pre-winter days are filled with my longing for the coming of pitchers and catchers. But sometimes the game just makes you shake your head. To wit:

-- MLB turns the other way when steroids and home runs bring fans back, because, as we know, chicks love the long ball.

-- Jim Rice gets dissed year after year in voting for the Hall of Fame.

And the latest insult:

-- A group of execs and scribes just voted to induct former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, but not labor leader Marvin Miller -- one of the game's most influential people -- into the Hall of Fame! Ridiculous!

In a telephone interview, Miller, 90, reacted with laughter and blunt words.

“Bowie Kuhn was a negative factor for baseball,” Miller said.

Could it be argued, Miller was asked, that the union’s gains through free agency were aided by Kuhn’s presence and Miller’s tactical ability against him?

“Without any question,” Miller said. “If he hadn’t existed, we would have had to invent him.”

Kuhn died in March at age 80.

This was the third time Miller had been rejected for the Hall of Fame. When asked whether he would request that his name be withdrawn from future consideration, Miller said he had thought about it but added, “I still want to cool down before I take any action.”

Kuhn was elected by a 12-member executives/pioneers committee made up of executives and former executives, newspaper reporters and former players.

Nine votes were needed for election; Kuhn received 10, and Miller 3. Kuhn was commissioner from 1969 through 1984, and Miller was executive director of the union from 1966 through 1983.

The current commissioner, Bud Selig, has supported Miller’s candidacy.

“I was surprised that Marvin Miller did not receive the required support given his important impact on the game,” Selig, also a former team owner, said, according to The Associated Press.  . . . .

The voting makeup of the veterans committee has been changed twice since 2001. The original 15-member panel was abolished, and instead, votes were extended to include every living member of the Hall. That group failed to elect anyone in three attempts.

In the two previous veterans committee elections, Kuhn’s total dropped to 14 from 20 and Miller’s rose to 51 from 35. Now, the veterans committee uses three panels — the two whose results were announced Monday and another for players. That committee will meet and vote next year.

In a news release, the union’s current executive director, Donald Fehr, criticized Miller’s rejection. “It was very disappointing,” Fehr said. “Over the entire scope of the last half of the 20th century, no other individual had as much influence on the game of baseball as did Marvin Miller.”

Fehr called Miller “the owners’ adversary” and said the panel was filled with a majority of representatives of ownership. “The failure to elect Marvin Miller is an unfortunate and regrettable decision,” Fehr said. “Without question, the Hall of Fame is poorer for it.”

Dale Petroskey, president of the Hall of Fame, said that the executives/pioneers panel was chosen by the board of directors of the Hall and that all 10 candidates were given fair hearings during discussions Sunday.

Petroskey, however, would not say which voters supported Miller and which ones voted against him. Harmon Killebrew, the former Minnesota slugger, was on the panel.

“Who knows what’s on people’s minds?” Killebrew said. When asked whether there was negativity against Miller, Killebrew said, “I didn’t get that feeling.”

Petroskey said Miller would get another chance from the veterans committee in two years and said the membership of the executives/pioneers panel could be different then.

“I’m sure today was disappointing for Marvin Miller, but he’ll have another chance,” Petroskey said. When asked whether Miller would still be a candidate should he withdraw his name, Petroskey said, “We’ve never really had that before.”

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