Labor of Love: MLPA Leader Miller, Catcher/Player Rep Simmons Elected to HOF
SAN DIEGO – Marvin Miller, the man the baseball players hired away from US Steel Workers to create the most impactful union in professional sports, and former catcher Ted Simmons, one of the most active players in the emergence of the Players Association, are headed to Cooperstown.
Miller and Simmons were the two members of a 10-man list of candidates who received the necessary 12 votes from the 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee to be enshrined as members of the Class of 2020. They will join any players elected by the veteran members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, whose selections will be announced Jan. 21.
Simmons was named on 13 of 16 ballots cast on Sunday, and Miller had support from 12 of the 16 voters. Simmons, who lives in St. Louis, will fly to San Diego on Monday to be formally introduced. Miller passed away on Nov. 27, 2012 at the age of 95.
Simmons played 21 seasons with the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves from 1968-88. The switch-hitting catcher compiled a .285 batting average, 2,472 hits, 483 doubles, 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI. He garnered MVP votes seven times in his career and finished among his league’s top 10 players in batting average six times. Simmons 193 hits in 1975 are the most of any catcher who caught at least 150 games in a season, and his 192 hits in 1973 rank second on that same list. Among those who played at least 50 percent of their games at catcher, Simmons ranks second in hits, second in doubles, second in RBI and fifth in runs scored.
The knock on him was he was not a textbook receiver, but he was known by his peers for his ability to develop pitchers because of his keen insight into baseball.
"Spending time with him was the key to my career," said former pitcher Bob McClure. "He had such a good vision of how to pitch, and was so intent on making you better that you couldn't ignore him. He would take the piece of clay and mold it into a statue."
Miller was elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966 and quickly turned the union into a powerhouse. Within a decade, Miller had secured free agency for the players via the arbitration process when Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith played out their contracts following the 1975 season. By the time Miller retired in 1982, the average player salary was approximately 10 times what it was when he took over.
He was known for his strong labor commitment, and far from a friendly relationship with ownership in negotiations, but it was with his leadership that baseball created what is considered the strongest and most effective players union in professional sports.
And while his tenure was known for the tendency of players to go on strike what cannot be ignored is that while the MLBPA was developing a reputation for being a strong factor in sports labor negotiations it also was part of the emergence of baseball from a "mom and pop" ownership image into the current wealthy serious business mentality of today.
The 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee commissioned with the review of the 10-name ballot was comprised of Hall of Fame members George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount; major league executives Sandy Alderson, Dave Dombrowski, David Glass, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin and Terry Ryan; and veteran media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt, Jack O’Connell and Tracy Ringolsby. Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark served as the non-voting chairman of the Modern Baseball Era Committee.
Results of the Modern Baseball Era Ballot (12 votes needed for election):
Ted Simmons (13 votes, 81.3%)
Marvin Miller (12 votes, 75%)
Dwight Evans (8 votes, 50%)
Dave Parker (7 votes, 43.8%)
Steve Garvey (6 votes, 37.5%)
Lou Whitaker (6 votes, 37.5%)
Three or Fewer Votes
The Modern Baseball Era Committee will next consider candidates in 2022 for the 2023 Induction year, as the process to consider candidates occurs two times in a five-year period. In the fall of 2020, the Golden Days Era Committee will consider candidates whose main career contributions occurred from 1950-69. And also in 2020, the Early Days Era Committee will consider candidates whose greatest contributions came from baseball’s origins through 1949. In 2021, the Today’s Games Era Committee will consider candidates whose main career contributions occurred from 1988 through the present. Committees will continue to meet at the Winter Meetings.
The Modern Baseball Era ballot was determined this fall by the Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Canadian Baseball Network); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (formerly Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (InsideTheSeams.com); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (formerly Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).
Hall of Fame Weekend 2020 will be held July 24-27 in Cooperstown, N.Y., with the Induction Ceremony slated for Sunday, July 26, 2020. The BBWAA election results will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 21, on MLB Network.
Also this week at the Winter Meetings, two Hall of Fame award winners will be announced, with the BBWAA selecting its annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing on Tuesday. On Wednesday baseball will announce the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner, given for excellence in baseball broadcasting.