Hayhurst And Miller

Bulletin news from the esteemed author and DL’d pitcher of the Toronto Blue Jays, Dirk Hayhurst. The Bullpen Gospels is no longer a cult classic. It is not only going to stay on the best-sellers’ list of The New York Times, it is going to move up on it. It is now considered the 15th best selling non-fiction paperback in the country.

See?

MARVIN MILLER AND THE HALL OF FAME
The venerable organizer of the first successful players’ association in sports turned 93 today and if there was justice, he would be starting to prepare his speech for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies over the summer.

As Joe Morgan so aptly noted on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, it is not just the players who should thank Miller for increasing rookie salaries from $8,000 to $400,000, and the top end of the equation from $100,000 to Eleventy Billion. The owners, despite doing everything possible to stop Miller before he started, then stop him while he was dismantling their plantations, then roll back his accomplishments, saw similar income explosions, and the growth of franchise values from a high then of around $12 million, to the fact that a couple of clubs are now worth a $1.6 billion.

That’s what the owners were fighting.

It is literally true that when Miller came to the MLBPA in 1966, the most expensive seat in any big league stadium was $3.50 or $4. The seat that now goes for a couple of grand in a luxury box, or for $1250 in the front row in the Bronx, was $4 – or less – before Marvin Miller almost single-handedly changed the nature of the business of the equation, and thus of the sport.

It can be rightly argued that fans don’t get to see players playing as long for one team as they used to (although I suspect a thorough study would indicate the change is a lot less than people think). They also don’t see many players spend their careers on the outside looking in, enslaved to one club literally forever, and never even getting to the post-season (Ernie Banks). The free agency that Miller rightfully won has not contributed to the small market/big market dilemma, it has only redefined it, and more importantly it has provided for the first time in the history of the game, the opportunity for less robust clubs to climb out of their holes through shrewd spending of the dollar (Cleveland in the ’90s, Tampa Bay today).

I don’t know what parallel there is to Marvin Miller among the players. I guess you’d have to start with Babe Ruth and double his longevity. Miller’s influence has been that strong. Was it painless? No. Was Ruth’s? The new game he created turned bunting, running, sacrificing, and hitting-and-running – and the men who excelled in them – into afterthoughts. It killed off John McGraw and “Inside Baseball” and for all we know led to the New York Giants moving out and the Dodgers going to LA, too.

But ask the players of today, and the fans of today, and the owners of today, if they’d really like to go back to, say, the ’60s, before free agency. It cost less to get in. And each team and each player lived on the margins of financial collapse. Is it just a coincidence that the geographical chaos of the time ended four years before free agency began? Between 1953 and 1972, Boston became Milwaukee, St. Louis became Baltimore, Philadelphia became Kansas City, Brooklyn became Los Angeles, New York became San Francisco, Washington became Minnesota, Milwaukee became Atlanta, Kansas City became Oakland, Seattle became Milwaukee, and Washington became Texas. Cleveland nearly moved. Oakland. San Francisco. Cincinnati. The Cardinals were going to Dallas.

In the 38 years since, for all the other turmoil, one franchise has moved.

Marvin Miller is a Hall of Famer, and with the special elections afforded Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente as precedent, he should be sent to Cooperstown now, not later – now while he can still enjoy it, and now while we can still honor him.

9 Comments

You always have the most interesting stories to tell… thank you. And yeah, I will be reading The Bullpen Gospels one of these days soon, when I get home. I think perhaps you need to write another book, though, and tell us more of the interesting stuff you’ve given us here. I’ve learned so much from you, while being thoroughly entertained in the process – which is a very neat trick. I have to say, I hope you’re wrong about Milton Bradley – that he’ll grow up or some such crazy thing… but I fear you are likely correct. Wish us Mariner fans luck, though… if you would, please. Thanks! Go Yankees! Go Mariners!

Keith, you make baseball history interesting. Right now I’m reading the 2000 edition of Ball Four, so I’m undestanding about what baseball was like for the players before free-agency became the rule…..nope, I wouldn’t want to turn back the clock, either. Marvin Miller SHOULD be inducted for the positive changes he made in the game.

As to The Bullpen Gospels, I’m recommending it to my friends and library…….excellent book ;)

That’s a lazy, superficial analysis to credit Miller and free agency with ending the so-called “geographical chaos” that existed between 1953 and 1972 without any empirical evidence. Five of the franchises that moved during this period were moving from markets that had more than one team (Boston Braves, St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia A’s, Brooklyn Dodgers, and NY Giants). Oversaturation was the cause, not the reserve system, and part of the reason you see franchises moving so infrequently now is because MLB has not attempted to create any new two-team markets since 1972. If they attempted to, say, plop another team in Boston, Philly, Houston, or wherever, I’m sure the result would be much the same.

Of course, the other prime reason why teams moved so much between 1953 and 1972?indeed, by far the biggest reason?is that baseball was finally expanding westward. Teams started moving because they had unchartered territory to move to. Now that MLB is a 30 team league and all the major markets are occupied, what viable alternatives are left? Jacksonville? Indianapolis? None, really. (And don’t give me Vegas, where no professional sports team is going, or Puerto Rico, which lacks the per capita income to support a competitive team).

Finally, it makes little sense for you to even mention the teams that “thought” of moving during that time period. Teams have always threatened to move as a means of exerting leverage in stadium negotiations. So what that “St. Louis was going to Dallas” or “Cleveland almost moved?” Since 1972, the Yankees have at various times “threatened” to move to Jersey and the Giants did the same with St. Petersburg. Threatened relocations were nothing unique or peculiar to the time period between 1953 and 1972.

How you overlooked these rather obvious explanations in favor of heaping unwarranted credit on Marvin Miller and free agency with ushering in geographic stability is incredible.

Breathing a heavy sigh of relief.Remember the Righteous Brothers’ song, ?You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’?? Well, I’ve lost that ?queasy feelin’? at not having a copy of The Bullpen Gospels. Just ordered it from Amazon and it should be here within a few days. Giddy with excitement? In some ways, yes . . . and in others . . . well, let’s see.
Kinda unrelated . . . today, I had a conversation with a visitor in my office, who was born and raised in New York and was a Yankees fan as a child (he saw Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle play at Yankee Stadium [have no idea if it was the one currently being dismantled]); he lived in Ohio for a time and was a total Indians fan; and then moved out West and through natural progression became a diehard Dodgers fan.
Is all of this loyalty to certain teams so geographic and ephemeral? Just wondering . . . :D

I agree on Marvin Miller, games and careers have improved since ballplayers became full-time professionals, and not pipefitters, mechanics and car salesmen who played ball for afew years in the summer. The game is better for him, by miles.

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, is it not time for Vin Scully to go in through the front door, with a proper plaque as a contributor to baseball? Clearly he has done more for the game than the racist T.A. Yawkey, the pathetic Happy Chandler or the inane Bowie Kuhn.

This popular mythology that someone who has won the annual award handed out to broadcasters is a “hall-of-famer” ought to be rejected out of hand. It is not Hall of Fame membership. As with the writer’s award, somebody wins it every year, while there is no guarantee that anyone will be enshrined in the Hall in any given year. Scully belongs on the list with Campanella, Koufax, Vance and Snider, not Bob Wolff and Lon Simmons.

To be sure, putting Vinnie in the Hall itself will mean the fan clubs of all sorts of announcers will clamor for their guy, but there has never been any who has done it as well, or for as long, or who has so personified a franchise as Scully; nobody has created fans of the game in a new market as he did in Los Angeles; and nobody has added as much dignity to the sport as he. Scully can and should be elected to the Hall of Fame as a regular member without it being presumed that just because someone who spent a long time as an announcer is similarly entitled, and the Frick Award for announcers is little more than a longevity honor.

Vin Scully has broadcast major league baseball games for a single franchise for longer than anyone else has been associated with the sport, never mind with a single team. Connie Mack was a short-timer next to him.

For me, one of the most memorable innings from Ken Burns’s Baseball was the one dealing with the influence Marvin Miller had on the game – he belongs in the Hall. RIP Curt Flood.

Off-topic:

As a long MST3K/CT fan, I wished to express my sincerest appreciation to you for spotlighting and giving “Cinematic Titanic” a well-deserved national platform. Great fan boy interview with Trace, Joel, and J. Elvis.

I do have one request: it is my most fervent wish that you nobly refrain from attending the show gratis on Saturday, since CT is wholly artist-funded (i.e., under no network or cable aegis) with the support of its faithful and loyal fan base.

One last thing: love the picture of you sticking your tongue out?but only because you were wearing the Pirates shirt (number? Maz? Clemente? The Flying Dutchman?). Go Bucs! And get to PNC Park if you?ve not yet been there (though sadly Pittsburgh no longer has your beloved trolleys).

I leave you with one challenge ? at some point use an image from the following on “Countdown”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8kH4XyWjq4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfuQMBYNRv0

Time for Tor to go to bed.

Thanks again. Jan in Santa Clarita

There’s an implication there that Ernie Banks would have wanted to move. Don’t think that’s the case.

Well, Keith, I have to say it: spoken like a man who can afford season tickets to Yankee stadium…

I wonder how you’d feel if you couldn’t afford to attend even one game anymore.

Can you even imagine the feeling?

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