View Single Post
11-14-2012, 01:01 PM
Global Moderator
kdb209's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 13,425
vCash: 500
Originally Posted by kdb209 View Post
The Supreme Court never ruled the Reserve Clause unconstitutional - they wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, leaving in effect their flawed 1922 and 1952 decisions granting MLB its unique anti trust exemption. When Curt Flood chalenged the Reserve Clause before the Supremes in 1972 - he lost.

The Reserve Clause was overturned by an Arbiter (Peter Seitz) under the dispute resolution terms of Baseball's Basic Agreement (the MLB CBA) - ruling on a grievance brought by McNally & Messersmith in 1975. The Seitz decision did not make "every player in baseball a free agent every year". Seitz ruled that under the Basic Agreement and MLB's SPC, if a player's contract expired, the Reserve Clause allowed a team to extend it for only one year - if he played out that year w/o a new contract, then he could become a free agent.

Now your original point still holds - Marvin Miller recognized that this could ultimately lead to a glut of free agents and that scarcity drives up salary - so the first thing the MLBPA did was to negotiate a new set of free agency rules. Among the owners, only Charlie Finley realized this and pushed, unsuccessfully, for complete free agency at the end of every contract.
And to get a fuller appreciation of Marvin Miller - and his patience and ability to execute the long game:

Originally Posted by kdb209
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
I think it was Tom Reich who said that he basically had this "eureka!" moment when he sat down and read the way it was worded. Everyone in the world said that the arbitration would go in favor of MLB, and Reich decided to look at the wording, and his reaction was something like, "This is it? Seriously? The players are going to win this."

Marvin Miller also was no dummy. The original test case was going to involve Mike Marshall, fresh off his NL Cy Young Award (the first for a reliever). He played without a contract, then was made an offer he couldn't refuse. So he dropped out, but Miller had taken a liking to him. So after McNally and Messersmith were granted free agency, Marshall publicly said (at Miller's prodding) that he had lawsuits prepared and ready to file if the MLBPA even thought about bargaining away any of this new freedom. Suddenly Miller's ferociously pro-union position looked like a moderate middle ground that the owners were happy to work around.
A really good short read on the "Demise of the Reserve Clause" - . For a longer read, I strongly recommend John Helyar's "The Lords of the Realm" - a great book on the sports business history of baseball.

Miller was aware of the gray area concerning the wording of the Reserve Clause even before he became MLBPA head in 1966 - he just had to get a few ducks in a row first.

A Route to Free Agency

Meanwhile, Marvin Miller was envisioning a different approach. The 48-year-old Miller had experience as an economist in the United Steelworkers of America when he became the first full-time executive director of the Players Association in 1966. Miller said he discovered the potential in Paragraph 10A even before he officially took office. “I did a double take the first time I saw it,” Miller said. “I couldn’t believe the whole reserve system rested on this.” Miller said he knew then that two elements were necessary for a challenge: a grievance system with an impartial arbitrator and a player who felt strongly about challenging Paragraph 10A to withstand the “brick bats” that would be thrown at him.6
Back then there was no grievance system - any disputes were settled informally and unilaterally by the Commissioner.

In the 1968 CBA he negotiated a formal grievance process - even if the Commissioner was still the arbiter.

In 1970 he got what he wanted an independent arbiter to hear grievances - actually a 3 man panel, one appointed by MLB, one by the PA, and one impartial agreed to by both sides.

The stage was set - but it took 5 years for Miller to finally find his test case.

kdb209 is online now   Reply With Quote