LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. (AP) - Pat Gillick is headed to the Hall of Fame after putting together three World Series championship teams in 27 years as a major league general manager. The Hall’s doors were shut for George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller, a pair of far more divisive figures.
Gillick received 13 votes from the 16-man Veterans Committee in totals announced Monday as the winter meetings began. Miller, the union head who revolutionized sports by gaining baseball players free agency and multimillion dollar salaries, got 11 _ one shy of the necessary 75 percent.
“Some people thought it’s too early,” said Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, a member of the committee.
Miller appeared on the ballot for the fifth time and came the closest this year. The 93-year-old remains controversial, and the committee included four representatives from management, a side that repeatedly lost to Miller’s union as players gained freedom: Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, an outspoken opponent of the players’ association; Kansas City Royals owner David Glass, the former chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a company that has fought with labor unions; former Phillies owner Bill Giles, whose notes in a collusion case helped players gain a $280 million settlement; and Orioles President Andy MacPhail, grandson of Hall of Fame executive Larry MacPhail and son of former AL President Lee MacPhail.
“A long time ago, it became apparent that the Hall sought to bury me long before my time, as a metaphor for burying the union and eradicating its real influence,” Miller said in a statement.
“What a travesty. I just feel so sorry for Marvin. It’s embarrassing to all of us who care about baseball,” former Commissioner Fay Vincent said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “The Marvin decision is stupefying.”
Donald Fehr, who succeeded Miller as union head, called it “a sad day for anyone who is or has been a major league player” and criticized the committee, saying the decision “says more about them than it does about Marvin.” Current union head Michael Weiner expressed “frustration, disappointment and sadness” and said the Hall “once again squandered a chance to better itself as an institution.”
Miller received 44 percent in 2003 and 63 percent in 2007 when all Hall of Famers could vote on the veterans panel. After the Hall downsized the committee, he got 3 of 12 votes in 2007 _ when seven members were from management _ and 7 of 12 last year.
“Maybe next time,” said Tony Perez, among seven Hall of Fame players on the committee, which also included Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog and four media representatives.
Miller, who led the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966-81, considers the turndowns a unique form of recognition.
“I and the union of players have received far more support, publicity, and appreciation from countless fans, former players, writers, scholars, experts in labor management relations, than if the Hall had not embarked on its futile and fraudulent attempt to rewrite history,” he said. “It is an amusing anomaly that the Hall of Fame has made me famous by keeping me out.”
“I don’t have the same passion about that,” Vincent said. “I think he’ll get in at some time.”