Will Steinbrenner Beat Out Miller for HOF

If there’s a topic that brings up a vocal debate among those that follow baseball outside the lines, the Hall of Fame voting results each year rates right up there with the best of them. In terms of looking at the Veterans Committee vote, and specifically the absence of Marvin Miller from the Hall, the question comes down to either, “How can you not have Miller in the Hall of Fame?”, or “Miller’s impact is not as great as it’s often portrayed.”

Indeed, the man that was instrumental in pulling the players together, bringing out a cohesive unionized force to be reckoned with, has done nothing more than bring salary arbitration, free agency, and many would say, labor strife, to the history of Major League Baseball. He led the MLBPA from 1966 to 1982 and is still talked of in his relationship to those that have followed, namely Don Fehr, and now Michael Weiner.

Miller has been absent the Hall over politics. He has either been seen by the Veterans Committee – a group almost exclusively made up of those on the management side of the fence – as a man that increased player salaries, and shifted the power away from the owners.

Last year, no executives were elected to the Hall – no one garnered the requisite 75 percent of the vote for inclusion in the 2010 class by way of the Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers. Miller pulled in 7 of 12 votes tying him with Jacob Ruppert, the former owner of the Yankees. Miller was  2 votes shy. Lost in the news that Miller missed the cut (again) was that former Tigers owner John Fetzer pulled in 8 of 12 votes.

In the year prior, Miller pulled in just 3 of 12 votes by the Veterans Committee, and to add salt into the wound of backers of Miller, was beat out by Bowie Kuhn the former commissioner of the league and the one most closely tied with Miller as the key changes for the players (salary arbitration, free agency) occurred while Kuhn was commissioner.

This year, the Veterans Committee makeup has changed. There are now 16 members, with the key change to the voting process now focusing on three eras, as opposed to four categories, with three separate electorates to consider a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players.

The problem for Miller in this “Expansion Era Committee” vote may be who he is up against. The 12 individuals who will be considered are former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Miller and the man that could thwart Miller for another year, George Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner is a looming figure, reshaping the Yankees after leading the purchase of the club from CBS on January 3, 1973 for approx. $10 million. Over the course of over 37 seasons the Yankees won 11 World Series championships, 11 AL pennants and won the AL East sixteen times. As of last year, not including YES Network, Forbes valued the Yankees at $1.6 billion, nearly double the value of the second highest valued club, the Boston Red Sox (see historical Forbes valuations).

Miller will be 94 in April of next year. Steinbrenner died on July 13th of this year, the day of the 2010 All-Star Game. There is an old saying that you can’t compete with a ghost. With Steinbrenner’s legacy played out over and over during the recent months, his accomplishments will be much more memorable for many on the Committee’s stage

But, if there’s a glimmer of hope for Miller, it may be the makeup of the Expansion Era Committee. Unlike years past, the new committee sees more players than there has been in the recent votes.

The Expansion Era Committee is made up of Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

So, the debate will be, should Steinbrenner go in on the first vote, or should Miller finally get his due? The voting results will be made available Monday Dec. 6th, on the first day of the Baseball Winter Meetings. Myself, David Appelman, and Dave Cameron will all be attending the meetings this year. I will be reporting the results as soon as it is announced.



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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for freelance and looks forward to your comments.


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this guy
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this guy
5 years 6 months ago

who cares…

MH
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MH
5 years 6 months ago

GO. AWAY. (Not you Maury, great work as always).

this guy
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this guy
5 years 6 months ago
Elwin
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Elwin
5 years 6 months ago

There is also a very good case to be made that Steinbrenner doesn’t belong anywhere near the Hall of Fame. He was suspended and then banned for very good reasons. He was a convicted felon and he conspired against his own player.

Ian
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5 years 6 months ago

You’d have to think the three owners and MacPhail will vote against Miller, right? So is he going to sweep the other twelve votes? Seems unlikely.

Mike
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Mike
5 years 6 months ago

T’would be funny if Steinbrenner gets in but Miller doesn’t given that it was Miller’s actions that directly allowed a guy like Steinbrenner to flourish as an owner.

bowie
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bowie
5 years 6 months ago

Miller should be in the Hall of Fame precisely because not enough people know who he is. He SHOULD be more famous. Voters should recognize his significance not just to baseball but to professional sports in general and acknowledge it formally through his election to the HoF. This would be a good step toward making both players and fans more understanding of the history of the game and why it is the way it is today.

Shawn
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Shawn
5 years 6 months ago

Who’s Will Steinbrenner?

Jon S.
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5 years 6 months ago

Unfortunately, Steinbrenner is the household name, not Miller. Knowledgable fans know who Miller is, and his legacy is important to the history of the game, but unfortunately Miller isn’t nearly as famous as Steinbrenner. Fame is in the name of that place in Cooperstown, and though I feel Miller deserves a place there, his relative lack of fame will probably be a hang-up for a few too many voters.

Mike
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Mike
5 years 6 months ago

Did you change the game forever (And not in a blatantly negative way – like you’re the guy who invented steroids or something)? If yes you should probably go in.

Victor Conte
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Victor Conte
5 years 6 months ago

DAMN! FOILED AGAIN! If it wasn’t for you meddling kids, I would have gotten away with it too!

Jon S.
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5 years 6 months ago

@ Mike: I agree. The Hall of Fame should have a place for everyone who influenced the game in a major way. As for those who could be considered villains, I personally believe they should have a place there, and the whole truth of their stories/influence should be there for future generations of fans to see. But that’s a conversation for a different post.

@Maury: The committee’s makeup definitely gives me more hope for Miller’s chances than I normally would have. Unfortunately, I also think you’re right about how Miller is most likely to get in the HOF. It may take his death for even the people he worked with and against to reflect and realize just how important he was to the game as we know it.

Jay Y.
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Jay Y.
5 years 6 months ago

Very minor point. For Big Stein’s credentials, in part, you list ” Over the course of over 37 seasons the Yankees won 11 World Series championships, 11 AL pennants and won the AL East sixteen times.”

I think it can’t be both 11 WS winners and 11 pennants they lost to AZ and FL in the World Series.

OK, going to check Baseball-Reference:
Counting the 1973 season, NYY have won 11 AL pennants and are 7-4 in World Series, so 7 World Series Championships, 16 AL East titles (11-3 in ALCS) and 4 wild cards. See: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/

Regarding Marvin Miller and the ignorant commentor: Read his autobiography “A Whole Different Ballgame” before dismissing him and revealing your lack of knowledge about baseball’s off-field history. His impact was profound.

It seems obvious the Hall of Fame voting structure is tilted toward management and therefore the upset would be his election. Also seems Steinbrenner is a shoo-in.

Would hope far more than 20% of FanGraphs readers know this already

Good post Maury. Thank you.

Evan3457
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Evan3457
5 years 6 months ago

I’ve never really understood why Marvin Miller should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. A major impact on the history of the game? Sure. For the better? An argument could be made that players are better because of all the money they now chase. I’m not convinced the game is better for that.

I do know it’s the reason why prices in baseball have increased far beyond the inflation rate in my lifetime. Is that a positive development? I don’t think it is.

The strikes and lockouts; a positive development? I don’t think so.

The wipeout of the 1994 World Series, for the 1st time in 90 years? I don’t think so. The loss of 1/3 of the 1981 season? I don’t think so.

You could make the same argument for Steinbrenner, I suppose. But if Charlie Comiskey’s in the Hall, and he is, and it wasn’t for his playing or managing, at least Steinbrenner’s team never laid down in a World Series (well, at least, not because they were bribed because the owner was such a tightwad), then I think there’s room for George. If you disagree, that’s OK, too. I can see the case against George, as well (competitive balance, two suspensions, and all that).

Orlando Cabrera
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Orlando Cabrera
5 years 6 months ago

If you “know” that, then you’ve never taken an economics class. Prices are driven by a revenue-maximizing supply-demand equilibrium, and in baseball, that’s independent of labor costs. If the reserve clause was still in place, you’d be paying the exact same price for tickets, concessions and merchandise you do right now, because owners aren’t going to let that money get away out of goodwill.

Patrick
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Patrick
5 years 6 months ago

Orlando,

I’d guess it might be a bit less, but that’s because I believe free agency has made the game itself stronger and more popular.

Hardly a bad thing!

Evan3457
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Evan3457
5 years 6 months ago

The owners wouldn’t “know” they could price tickets that high without the massive outlays they pay. The idea that this is independent of costs makes for nice theory, but it’s absurd. It’s like saying the price of a car is independent of the costs of the labor and materials used to make it.. If the price of materials or labor goes up, so does the price.

To a certain extent, there’s an inelastic demand caused by fan loyalty, but now that fan loyalty is being breached at the high end. The point being, average player’s salaries have gone up, what, 100 fold in 40 years, and tickets prices have followed at that rate, for the most part, whereas most prices have not gone up more than 10 fold in that time.

The teams certainly have to charge enough to cover their biggest expense, which is the team’s payroll (major league, minor league, and front office). If that goes up far beyond the inflation rate, then so will prices.

Russ
Member
Member
Russ
5 years 6 months ago

The theory that costs determine pricing was debunked in the 19th century. Pricing is ultimately determined by what the market will bear, not by costs. If product is priced above what the market will bear, goods and services don’t sell as well. See General Motors’ bankruptcy for details.

Demand does have some elasticity. Teams sell more tickets when they win than when they lose, although certain events, like a new ballpark, can distort this. The Mets just announced a drop in ticket prices even though their payroll is going up.

Bill Wallberg
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Bill Wallberg
5 years 6 months ago

Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame — even more so than Steinbrenner at this time. Let’s face it: the Yankees were a winning franchise years before Steinbrenner bought them (even with an extended dry spell through the ’60’s and early ’70’s), but Miller oversaw an absolute revolution in player/owner relations and contributed to the largest change in the way that the game is structured today. Without Miller, Steinbrenner would not have had an impact because there would have been no free agency. Miller shifted the dominance away from the cabal of owners and more toward the players.

Orlando Cabrera
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Orlando Cabrera
5 years 6 months ago

I’d have to think that more than 20% of FG’s readership knows who Marvin Miller is, if only because I’d wager more than 20% of FG’s readership also reads Rob Neyer, and, well, it’s impossible to read Rob Neyer for very long without coming across Marvin Miller.

pft
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pft
5 years 6 months ago

After the Seitz decision Miller had a chance to end the reserve clause for all players, and chose to keep young players as slaves for 6 years so a select few veterans who happen to make 6 years can receive bigger pay days subsidized by young players, some of whom never make it past 6 years due to injury or lack of talent. This of course led to a boom in the player agent industry.

I guess he was like Abraham Lincoln, except he was Lincoln who would keep AA’s slaves for 6 years before being free.

What would MLB look like with FA for all? Hard to say, market forces would have worked something out. Most likely what would have happened is top prospects would be offered multi year contracts that would carry over to their MLB years, and guys like A-Rod make only 15 million instead of 30 million.
The average salary would still be 2.7 million per WAR, but there would be income equality, where those who deserve to paid well because of their performance are paid well, and without the discrimination of service time.

Right now you have a system where the income distribution gives us absurdities where a 37 yo SS can ask for 20 million a year without laughing, and young stars make 450K.

Miller for HOF, no thanks, and that goes for Steinbrenner. The latter was a owner of a ball club in the largest market in the country, in an industry free of competition due to a defacto legal monopoly that ignores anti-trust regulations.
Why does he deserve to be in the HOF, because he could spend more money than any team?

It would be a travesty if either guy made the HOF.

maqman
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maqman
5 years 6 months ago

I’m one of the old farts who was into baseball before The Boss was in college. I’ve lived all through the Miller and Steinbrenner sagas and Miller is much more deserving of the HOF than the man who milked New York City dry. The only man more deserving than Miller was Curt Flood. If you don’t know why then you don’t know the game. Steinbrenner is more deserving of being in the Circus Hall of Fame.

Richard Hershberger
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Richard Hershberger
5 years 6 months ago

The category is Pioneers and Executives, but the pioneers part seems to have been forgotten. (The Hall’s website lists, for example Alexander Cartwright as an “executive”, which is patently absurd.) This is unfortunate, as there are gaps that should be filled. I am constantly surprised every time I remember that James Creighton is not in the Hall. And he isn’t even particularly obscure, as these things go. Diving a bit deeper, both Daniel “Doc” Adams (my favored choice) or William Wheaton have a better claim on the “rules pioneer” slot than does Cartwright. He was a reasonable choice in 1939, but we know a lot more about early baseball now than we did then.

But so far as I can tell, this sort of thing is completely off the radar. There doesn’t seem to be any consciousness of anything before the professional era.

David Z
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David Z
5 years 6 months ago

One thing that I haven’t seen addressed: if all the World Series victories and pennants are such a strong argument for Steinbrenner, then why haven’t any previous Yankees’ owners been enshrined in the HOF? Jacob Ruppert owned the Yankees during the Ruth Gehrig era and had 8 WS and 10 pennants; Dan Topping and Del Webb co-owned the team from 47-64 and had 10 WS and 15 pennants – none of them are in the Hall. Winning lots of championships clearly hasn’t been the sole criteria for enshrining owners so what has Steinbrenner done – besides sign big checks – that was so innovative and game-changing that he deserves to be in the HOF?

tomwolf2008
Member
tomwolf2008
5 years 6 months ago

All people think Miller doesn’t belong to the HOF should just watch a baseball doucumentary or something, Miller has a major impact on baseball. All the others that changed baseball drastically (e.g. Harry Wright, AG Spalding, Ban Johnson, Branch Rickey) were voted into the HOF, I don’t see why Miller shouldn’t.

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