Question of the day: Would Marvin Miller or George Steinbrenner have been a better choice than Pat Gillick for the baseball Hall of Fame? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Please check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Juan C. Rodriguez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Neither Marvin Miller nor George Steinbrenner was a better choice for the Hall of Fame. Were they as deserving as Pat Gillick? Absolutely.
This discussion is not about the merits of Gillick's candidacy as a longtime general manager. His record as one of the game's preeminent team architects is well-founded. Why the Veterans Committee did not give Miller or Steinbrenner the necessary votes is the issue.
Miller was one vote short of election, prompting former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent to call that outcome a travesty. Both Miller and Steinbrenner were seminal figures in baseball history. Steinbrenner was on the ballot for the first time and likely will get in eventually, but Miller inexplicably has been denied Hall entry five times.
Baseball players have Miller to thank for their sizable helping of a multibillion-dollar pie. Miller accused the Hall of trying to rewrite history instead of recording it. Tough to argue with him.
Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune
Neither Marvin Miller nor George Steinbrenner would be a BETTER choice than Pat Gillick. Is he better known than the over-sized personalities of the other two? No, but Gillick possessed a magic wand that could turn franchises into winners.
If the question becomes "should Miller or Steinbrenner be in the Hall of Fame?" the answer would be yes. Both deserve to be in, and both could have been voted in this past week. The committee was not limited to one choice. The debate about whether Miller really belongs in a Hall that recognizes "contributions to the game" seems to be never-ending and, in its own way, entertaining.
Yes, Miller belongs in and so does Steinbrenner, but neither should be considered MORE deserving than Gillick.
[Updated at 11:31 a.m.:
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
Imagine if Pat Gillick had never gone into baseball. Would it be any different? Now imagine the sport without Marvin Miller or George Steinbrenner.
As executive director of the players union, Miller championed the rights of the players and won huge salary increases -– and Steinbrenner proved only too eager to pay them. Both transformed and revolutionized the game and are more deserving than Gillick of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
But it is Miller's impact that has been more positive and more sweeping, leaving he and Jackie Robinson as perhaps the most important figures in baseball in the last half of the 20th century.
Miller pioneered the changes that saw baseball's minimum wage grow from $6,000 to more than $414,000 a year, while the average salary went from $19,000 to more than $3 million. Those gains not only made the players union one of the strongest labor organizations in history, but it changed the sport's financial model as well. But ownership benefited along with the players, with the clubs' annual revenue jumping from $50 million a season in Miller’s first year to more than $7 billion last season.
Free agency didn't just improve just the bottom line, though. The competitive balance in baseball today is better than that in any other professional sport in the U.S.
Babe Ruth may have saved baseball after the Black Sox scandal, and Robinson may have made it whole.
But Miller's legacy was no less profound, and his enshrinement is long, long overdue.
Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun
I understand the arguments for putting George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller in the Hall of Fame before Pat Gillick, but I don't see how you can go wrong enshrining the architect of three World Series-winning teams.
The man was at the top of his game for years, including as recently as 2008, when he guided the Phillies to a world championship. And the Series-winning Blue Jays teams he put together in 1992 and 1993 were monsters. Growing up around Baltimore, I hated those Toronto teams because their talent level seemed unfair.
Speaking of Baltimore, I doubt you'll find anyone here who would oppose Gillick's entry into the Hall. The Orioles not only haven't made the playoffs since he left their front office in 1998, they haven't even had a winning season. It might not be a direct, one-to-one correlation, but it's no coincidence either.]
Photo: Pat Gillick. Credit: Roberto Gonzalez / Associated Press