Marvin Miller revolutionized the way players are treated and paid. He fought hard to protect the players and increase their well being.
When Miller started as the chief of the MLB Players’ Association in 1966, the average player salary was $19,000. By the time he left the post in 1982, that figure rose to nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Miller made the MLBPA one of the strongest unions in the country. In 1968, he negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement. It increased the minimum salary from $7,000 to $10,000 – a 43% increase. Players were overjoyed.
Miller repeatedly fought – and won – against team owners. During his reign free agency was ushered in. The players gained incredible power compared to the era before Miller worked for them.
Under Miller’s guidance, the MLBPA provided a roadmap for players’ unions in other sports. He transformed the way players were viewed. Instead of being employees of team, they were seen as having special talents deemed valuable to society.
“I take a great deal of satisfaction in what we accomplished,” Miller said. “The changes that needed to be made were so fundamental and basic that it didn’t take a rocket scientist to say what needed to be changed.”
In retirement, Miller became the focus of a Hall of Fame debate. Some saw his contribution as fundamentally improving the players’ plight. Owners and baseball executives who fought him believed his work ruined the game.
In 2020 he was elected to the Hall of Fame, eight years after his death.
Despite high demand from collectors and what must be a great availability of his signature, Miller letters are not readily available on the market.
Shown here is a letter signed in his capacity as union chief.