Kuhn, O'Malley and 3 others elected to Baseball Hall of Fame; Marvin Miller snubbed

Updated: December 3, 2007, 6:58 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- At last, Bowie Kuhn beat Marvin Miller at something.

The late commissioner was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday while Miller was rejected by a revamped Veterans Committee stacked with those he regularly opposed -- and beat -- in arbitration and bargaining sessions that altered the history of the game.

"Bowie was a close friend and a respected leader who served as commissioner during an important period in history, amid a time of change," commissioner Bud Selig said, adding: "I was surprised that Marvin Miller did not receive the required support given his important impact on the game."

Former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss also were elected.

Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey each missed induction by a single vote.

Dreyfuss helped bring peace between the American and National Leagues by arranging the first World Series in 1903. O'Malley united the East and West Coasts under baseball's flag when he moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. Southworth and Williams won World Series titles.

Kuhn presided over the introduction of night games to the World Series and baseball's first, tentative steps into national marketing. But the game also changed in ways he fiercely resisted: Free agency, salary arbitration and dozens of other benefits that Miller won for the players as the head of their union.

"I think it was rigged, but not to keep me out. It was rigged to bring some of these (people) in. It's not a pretty picture," Miller said by telephone after being informed of the results by The Associated Press. "It's demeaning, the whole thing, and I don't mean just to me. It's demeaning to the Hall and demeaning to the people in it."

The veterans panel has been changed twice since 2001, when charges of cronyism followed the election of glove man Bill Mazeroski. The original 15-member panel was expanded to include every living member of the Hall, but that group failed to elect anyone in three tries.

It was replaced by three separate panels -- one for players, one for managers and umpires and one for executives and pioneers, leaving Miller's fortunes largely in the hands of the same group he once fought in collective bargaining and the courts.

He did not come close, receiving only three of 12 possible votes. Under the previous system, Miller received 63 percent of the votes earlier this year while Kuhn got 17 percent -- a reversal noticed by Miller's successor at the players' union, Donald Fehr.

"Over the entire scope of the last half of the 20th century, no other individual had as much influence on the game of baseball as did Marvin Miller," Fehr said. "Because he was the players' voice, and represented them vigorously, Marvin Miller was the owners' adversary. This time around, a majority of those voting were owner representatives, and results of the vote demonstrate the effect that had.

"The failure to elect Marvin Miller is an unfortunate and regrettable decision. Without question, the Hall of Fame is poorer for it."

Kuhn, who died in March at the age of 80, is the first commissioner elected since Happy Chandler in 1982.

Attendance tripled during Kuhn's tenure, from 1969-84. But during essentially the same era, Miller was leading the players to more lucrative and revolutionary gains, taking the average salary from $19,000 to $241,000 and pitching a virtual shutout against the owners when he went head-to-head.

Selig, a former owner and longtime bargaining foe of the players, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Miller's candidacy. Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who was on the panel that considered Miller, said he was limited because he could only vote for four of the 10 candidates.

"Everybody on that list deserved to be there," Killebrew said, declining to reveal whether he voted for Miller. "He certainly had a tremendous impact."

Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark defended the process.

"There was no concerted effort other than to have very qualified committee members evaluate very qualified candidates," she said. "There was a very open and frank discussion about each of the candidates. Everyone on that committee knows Marvin and respects what he did for the game. And that showed in the discussions."

The five elected this time will be inducted into the Hall on July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.. They will be joined by any players elected in traditional voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to be announced Jan. 8.

Herzog and Harvey came close in voting by a 16-member panel. The Veterans Committee did not consider players this time, but will meet late next year to vote on candidates for enshrinement in 2009.

Dreyfuss, who received 10 of 12 votes, helped end the longtime feud between the American and National Leagues when he and Boston owner Henry Killilea agreed to meet on the diamond after the 1903 season.

The World Series was born.

Southworth, who was chosen on 13 of 16 ballots from the panel that considered umpires and managers, won four pennants and two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Braves.

"Billy Southworth oversaw one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history and it is gratifying to see his career accomplishments recognized by the Veterans Committee," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement.

Williams was a spare part on O'Malley's Dodgers in Brooklyn but earned his way into the Hall as a manager, making his debut by taking the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox to the 1967 AL pennant and winning the '72 and '73 World Series with the Oakland Athletics.

Williams, the only one of the most recent inductees who is alive, said he and his wife, Norma, broke down and cried when they got the call on Monday morning.

"It just blew our mind," he said. "Under the (voting) regime they had previously ... I didn't think anybody would get there."

O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season -- a baseball version of the California Gold Rush that helped open the West to the national pastime. He received the minimum nine votes necessary for induction.

"Mr. O'Malley was a visionary by opening the gates to the West Coast. He linked the entire nation to the game of baseball," Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda said. "What a contribution he's made."

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AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this story.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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