|The impact of Marvin Miller|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on December 09, 2009
There's no question that Miller made a positive contribution to players' wallets. Before free agency in 1975, the average major league salary was $45,000 - today the average player makes $3,260,000. ... But baseball doesn't exist for the players - it exists for the fans.
And the advent of free agency has had questionable consequences for fans of the game. ... Before Miller came upon the scene, there had been zero work stoppages. After he was elected head of the MLBPA in 1966, we have seen strikes or lockouts in 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990, and 1994, five of which came under Miller's guidance which lasted until 1982.
... While players' wallets got a boost, their reputations took a hit. In the pre-Miller era, the greedy prima donna athlete stereotype so ubiquitous today did not exist. Nor did fans boo their former heroes for bolting town for the highest offer once they became free agents. Back in 1966, athletes of all stripes seemed to share more with the common man than the fat cats in the owners boxes. Today, fans are more inclined to view them as one in the same.
In an alternate, Miller-less world, A-Rod would perhaps be toasting his longtime teammates Ken Griffey and Randy Johnson in Seattle on another World Series title, with all three enjoying the same kind of local working-man's hero status that players like Ted Williams and Ernie Banks used to share. ...Well worth a read!