NEW YORK (AP) - Hall of Famers were among dozens of baseball players attending a memorial for former union head Marvin Miller, who helped them gain free agency in the 1970s and created the path to multimillion-dollar salaries.
Former stars Dave Winfield and Joe Morgan were among those speaking Monday night at New York University School of Law during a celebration of the life of Miller, who died in November at 95. Reggie Jackson, Keith Hernandez and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred were in the audience with several agents and the head of the Japanese baseball players' association.
Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Micah Owings were among a handful of current players who attended.
A former economist for the United Steelworkers Union, Miller spent 16 1/2 years as executive director of the Major League Players Association, starting in 1966.
"Every time somebody signs one of these wonderful contracts, and there are so many of them out there, I think before they get the first check they should have to write an essay on Marvin Miller," said Rusty Staub, a big leaguer from 1963-85.
During Miller's tenure, the average major league salary increased from $19,000 to $241,000. It was $3.2 million last year.
"We could have searched 100 years and wouldn't have found a more perfect person for our situation," said Morgan, a Hall of Fame second baseman who played in the majors from 1963-84.
Players spoke in order of when they made their big league debuts. Current union head Michael Weiner hosted the tribute.
Jim Bouton, who entered the majors in 1962, was critical that Bowie Kuhn, baseball's commissioner from 1969-84, is in the Hall of Fame but Miller has been kept out.
"I think Bowie Kuhn was 0 for 67" against Miller, Bouton said.
Said former major league player and manager Buck Martinez of Miller: "It is a travesty he is not in the Hall of Fame."