Marvin Miller, chief counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, arrives at New York's Doral Hotel in 1981 (AP)
(USA TODAY) -- Marvin Miller, 95, who formed the Major League Baseball Players Association and turned it into one of the most powerful unions in the country, died Tuesday, the union announced.
Miller, who formed union in 1966, was never inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, but called by famed broadcaster Red Barber as one of the two or three most important men in baseball history, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.
Miller negotiated the union's first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, and in 1974, successfully ended the reserve clause, enabling players to achieve free agency after six years of service. He also raised the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000. Today, the minimum salary is worth $480,000. Miller also bargained for salary arbitration, which has been responsible for salaries to soar for players before entering free agency. Miller led the union through five collective bargaining agreements during his tenure.
Miller also led the union through three strikes, which perhaps damaged his Hall of Fame chances to be inducted as an executive. He fell short in 2003, 2007 and 2011 in voting among committee members, with Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver endorsing Miller.
Former major league pitcher Jim Bouton was openly critical of the election, saying: "Essentially, the decision for putting a union leader in the Hall of Fame was handed over to a bunch of executives and former executives. Marvin Miller kicked their butts and took power away from the baseball establishment. Do you really think those people are going to vote him in? It's a joke.
"I blame the players. It's their Hall of Fame; it's their balls and bats that make the hall what it is. ...Do they think they became millionaires because of the owners' generosity?"
"Many years ago those who control the Hall decided to rewrite history instead of recording it," Miller said in a statement released through the MLBPA. The aim was to eradicate the history of the tremendous impact of the players' union on the progress and development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment and as an industry ....
I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged Veterans Committee whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while offering the pretense of a democratic vote.''
The average salary in Major League Baseball is now $3.4 million.