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Marvin Miller, Union Leader Who Brought Free Agency To Baseball, Dies

Marvin Miller, "arguably the most significant figure in 20th century baseball" according to Morning Edition commentator Frank Deford, has died.

The former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association was 95.

His death was confirmed to The Associated Press by a daughter and to USA Today by the union. According to the AP, Miller was diagnosed with liver cancer this summer.

As Frank said on Morning Edition in December 2010, Miller was "certainly no less important to the national pastime than was Jackie Robinson or Branch Rickey or Babe Ruth. For that matter, because Miller outsmarted the entire establishment, giving baseball players free agency and abolishing the illegal reserve clause, he not only turned the business of baseball on its ear but effectively overhauled all professional sports in the United States."

Miller should be in baseball's Hall of Fame, Frank says.

USA Today reminds us that:

"Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in sports history in 1968, and in 1974, successfully ended the reserve clause, enabling players to achieve free agency after six years of service. He also raised the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000. Today, the minimum salary is worth $480,000. Miller also bargained for salary arbitration, which has been responsible for salaries to soar for players before entering free agency. Miller led the union through five collective bargaining agreements during his tenure."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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