Marvin Miller received a surprise backer in his quest to make baseball’s Hall of Fame: Commissioner Bud Selig.
Miller, who led players to free agency that has produced multimillion-dollar contracts, fell short of election from the Veterans Committee in 2003 and again this year.
“The criteria for non-playing personnel is the impact they made on the sport. Therefore Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame on that basis,” Selig said Thursday at a meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Maybe there are not a lot of my predecessors who would agree with that, but if you’re looking for people who make an impact on the sport, yes, you would have to say that.”
Selig also said former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo and Buck O’Neil, a Negro Leagues star who died last year, should be in the Hall.
The reconstituted Veterans Committee has not elected anyone since it began in 2003, with all candidates falling short in three votes for players and two for managers, umpires and officials. The Hall’s board is considering changes in the process.
“We need to make some adjustments. Executives have a hard time getting in, players,” Selig said. “We need a process that maybe produces more results, fairer results.”
On other topics, Selig said:
* He remains undecided whether to attend Barry Bonds’ games as the San Francisco Giants star approaches the career home run record.
* Baseball has no plans to alter its record book based on any determinations made on steroids use.
* There is no indication a urine test for human growth hormone will available any time soon.
* He hopes the proposed sale of the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner Inc. to Liberty Media Corp. will be approved when owners meet in New York on May 16-17.
* Baseball will reexamine the posting system for Japanese players but currently doesn’t contemplate any changes.
Selig also wouldn’t put a time frame on the report former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is compiling on steroids use. Selig doesn’t think offering players amnesty would encourage players to speak out.
“Those that did it probably will never come forward under any circumstances,” he said.
Flanked by Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy and executive vice presidents Rob Manfred, John McHale Jr. and Jimmie Lee Solomon, Selig answered questions for more than an hour.
The first question dealt with whether Selig planned to be at the ballpark if or when Bonds passes Hank Aaron’s career record of 755 homers.
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds lied under oath when he told a 2003 grand jury that he didn’t knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’ve said we will commemorate that occasion like we’ve done everything else, and we will,” Selig responded. “But I’ll make a judgment as time goes on.”
Addressing bad weather that has caused postponements early in the season, he said the one time baseball began the season in warm-weather ballparks and domes, in 1997, many games were wiped out because of weather in mid-April.
“All these guys think there’s global warming, I wish they’d come to the Middle West. If this is global warming, I’d hate to see how bad it used to be,” he said.
He also said he didn’t mind that games are rescheduled as separate admission split-doubleheaders, not traditional doubleheaders in which one ticket was good for both games.
“Back in the day when they would play games in an hour and 40, and hour and 50 minutes, two hours, doubleheaders were popular. People don’t want to sit that long today,” he said. “I think playing split day-night doubleheaders frankly has really worked out great.”
Coming off celebrations that marked the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, Selig defended baseball’s efforts to increase the percentage of black players and predicted there will be an increase.
“I’m stunned at the 8 or 9%,” he said. “There’s no question we have to do better.”