Sadly, Marvin Miller died Tuesday. Miller formed the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966 and turned it into the most powerful players union in sports. He is clearly one of the most important figures in baseball history, even if his work during three baseball strikes ruined his chances to make the Hall of Fame.
So out of deep respect to Miller, a true legend, we would like to pay tribute by imagining Miller working for fans. Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in sports history — imagine if Miller negotiated a similar agreement between fans and owners. Just as he raised the minimum salary 66% in that first agreement, what if he negotiated with owners to lower ticket prices by 66%? What if Miller led fans through three strikes? What kind of gains would we make?
Miller helped successfully abolish baseball’s reserve clause, which kept players tied to teams in perpetuity. What if Miller fought so fans didn’t have to be tied to one (terrible) owner? Could Miller have ended the NFL’s prohibition on public ownership or prevented teams from holding their cities hostage by threatening to move without a new stadium? Could Miller have eliminated blackouts once and for all? Miller also worked to collectively negotiate licensing and marketing deals on behalf of players. What if fans were the ones doing the marketing instead of being marketed to?
Players made a lot of short-term sacrifices by striking with Miller over the years in order to win long-term gains. Are fans willing to do the same?
Will fans ever have their own “Moses” to free them from having to endure the whims, abuses and threats of sports team owners? We certainly hope so.