Michael Weiner, who spent his adult life representing Major League Baseball players and rose to become their leader during an era of unprecedented prosperity and labor peace, died Thursday. He was 51.
Weiner was diagnosed last summer with inoperable brain cancer. The union said Weiner died at his New Jersey home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters.
His casual manner and dress belied his stature as one of the most brilliant lawyers to work in sports, and his popularity extended beyond the union to the commissioner's office, and to the very executives against whom he negotiated.
He continued to work through this summer, even as the cancer robbed him of his ability to walk and the use of his right side. Nonetheless, he appeared at the All-Star game, in a wheelchair and in public view. He had no hesitation in explaining why, even as his voice grew soft, and the trace of a tear appeared in his left eye.
"I don't know if I will be able to do this again," he told The Times. "If the doctors' prognostications and numbers are right, I probably won't. Because of that, I want to be wherever I can be."
The union announced a succession plan this year, under which former major league infielder Tony Clark would be in line to take over for Weiner as executive director.
"First, I want to extend our sincerest, heartfelt condolences to Michael's wife, Diane, and daughters," Clark said in a statement. "Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today. Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend. As one of the most beloved and respected members of the baseball community, Michael will be missed by all of us."