In today's NY Times, George Vecsey argues that stadium announcers, peanut vendors (!), and the judge who used Solomon-like wisdom to divide up the Bonds 73rd homer ball should all be considered for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame now that Marvin Miller is on the Veterans' Committee ballot.
I know that he is being somewhat facetious, but I think it underscores the baseball writers' misconceptions as to who is really Hall-worthy. Not only do I think Miller is worthy, I think he is the best candidate on the Veterans' Committee list. One can argue that the Hall should just be for players, but since baseball has already admitted executives, why not choose those most responsible for the game's development rather than the Tom Yawkeys of the baseball underworld?
In the introduction to Miller's epiphanic autobiography A Whole Different Ballgame, Bill James writes that if baseball were to erect a monument similar to Mount Rushmore for those responsible for the evolution of the game, Miller's face would be among them. Indeed, the story of baseball in the last 35 years cannot be told without mentioning Miller numerous times.
If I were erecting such a statue, I would have to consider the following baseball men:
- William Hulbert-established the nascent NL as the dominant baseball league.
- Ban Johnson-established the AL as a major league and a string equal to the NL.
- Kenesaw Mountain Landis-as the first commissioner guided and strengthened the majors.
- Babe Ruth-helped popularize the game and develop into the game we know today.
- Rube Foster-established the first strong African-American league, without which integration would never have occurred.
- Branch Rickey-helped develop the farm system and to integrate baseball.
- Jackie Robinson-you already know.
- Marvin Miller- developed and headed the first true players' union in over 70 years, which resulted in the boom era of the last 30 years.
- Bill James-developed a methodology for baseball research and analysis that informs all intelligent conversation today.
There are a few others (Henry Chadwick, A.G. Spalding, Alexander Cartwright, Harry Wright, Monte Ward, etc.) that one could make a valid argument for, but by and large these are the men who shaped baseball for better and/or for worse.
Given that the Vets took their time in identifying Foster and Hulbert, I am actually surprised that Miller has made it onto the list at all. In Hulbert's case, they instead enshrined the first NL president, Morgan Bulkeley, who occupied the job when it was largely a figurehead position (shared among the owners and held for one year), that is until Hulbert just donned the title along with the mantle, which he already had. (By the way, the argument for removing the unworthy from teh Hall starts with the upstart Bulkeley.) Given that such knowledgeable research is done on the executives enshrined and that the writers are providing such a sage beacon themselves, I fully expect Miller to be bypassed for years to come.