Marvin Miller is the labor negotiator who changed the character of elite sports. The first executive director of Major League Baseballs Players Association (MLBPA), from 1966 to 1981, Miller presided over the suspension of baseballs reserve clause that bound players to the team that held their contract, the introduction of salary arbitration in player management disputes, and the birth of free agency that allowed a player movement to seek the best offer for his services.
The MLBPA won $20 million in salary and pension benefits in Millers first six years. Minimum salaries went from $6,000 to $13,500, travel was first class, liberal meal allowances were initiated, and player’s financial gains soared directly and indirectly from increased pension benefits. By the time Miller stepped down as executive director, player’s salaries averaged more than $500,000!
Miller spent the better part of his adult life in labor management. Prior to his involvement with baseball, he was associated with the United Steelworkers of America for 16 years in various positions, including as its chief economist and associate director of research.
Miller negotiated the MLBPAs first five labor contracts and successfully led players in the strikes of 1972 (13 days) and 1981 (50 days). His 16 years as the MLBPA executive director had a direct and irrevocable influence on baseball and drew the blueprint for significant changes in all professional and amateur sports.
Wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Red Smith: When you speak of Babe Ruth, he is one of the two men, in my opinion, who changed baseball the most. The second most influential man in the history of baseball is Marvin Miller.
Miller published his autobiography, "A Whole Different Ball Game" in 1991.