Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Longtime Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons and MLB Players Association executive director Marvin Miller were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, as announced Sunday night on MLB Network. Simmons and Miller were inducted via the “Modern Era” veterans committee, a 16-person panel focusing on people whose largest contributions to the sport fell between 1970 and 1987.

Each offseason, a different committee meets to examine a different era of baseball’s history and consider any important figures for enshrinement into Cooperstown, including players who didn’t reach the 75% threshold on the writers’ ballots.  This year’s panel consisted of, as always, a mixture of former players, executives, owners, journalists, and historians — Sandy Alderson, George Brett, Rod Carew, Bill Center, Dave Dombrowski, Dennis Eckersley, David Glass, Steve Hirdt, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, Eddie Murray, Jack O’Connell, Tracy Ringolsby, Terry Ryan, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount.

Twelve of 16 votes were required for induction, and each Modern Era committee member could vote for a maximum of four candidates. Simmons (13 votes) led the field while Miller hit the 12-vote minimum on the dot. For Simmons, Sunday’s news represents some relief after his near-miss during the last Modern Era ballot in 2017. Simmons fell only a single vote short of the 12 required for entry into Cooperstown (Miller was also on that 2017 ballot, receiving seven votes).

Of the other eight players on this year’s ballot, Dwight Evans (eight votes), Dave Parker (seven votes), Steve Garvey (six votes), and Lou Whitaker (six votes) all made particularly strong showings, while Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson and Dale Murphy each received three or fewer votes. These eight players will again be eligible for consideration during the next Modern Era vote in December of 2022.

Simmons lasted just one year on the writers’ ballot and was removed after failing to achieve the minimum 5% of the vote. It was surprising both then and now that Simmons’ career didn’t make much of an impact on the writers, considering that he has long been regarded as one of the best-hitting catchers in the history of the sport. Simmons hit .285/.348/.437 with 248 homers over 21 seasons and 9,685 plate appearances from 1968-1988, and he ranks second all-time among all catchers in hits (2,472), doubles (483), and RBI (1,389).  Over Simmons’ 13 seasons with the Cardinals, five seasons with the Brewers and three seasons with the Braves, he accumulated eight All-Star appearances.

If Simmons was perhaps overdue after his close call in the 2017 vote, Miller’s induction corrects one of the more glaring omissions from the Hall of Fame.  While some of the owners and executives who populated various veterans committees over the years weren’t fans of how Miller built and strengthened the MLBPA, there is little doubt that he is one of the most influential figures in baseball history.

With Miller serving as the MLBPA’s executive director from 1966-1982, his tenure saw nothing less than a complete reinvention of the relationship between players and ownership. The very first Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the MLBPA was struck, and the old reserve clause (most famously challenged by Curt Flood) eventually fell by the wayside, paving the way for modern free agency and the current arbitration system.  Player salaries and pensions saw immense growth as the union grew in strength, as Miller brought modern labor practices to a business whose employees previously had little in the way of an organized front to challenge management.

Miller and Simmons will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 26, along with any players voted in when the Baseball Writers’ Association Of America reveals its ballot on Jan. 21.

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