A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME by Marvin Miller

A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME

The Sport and Business of Baseball

KIRKUS REVIEW

 July 1 (the pub date of the very special text at hand) will mark the 25th anniversary of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Miller, the first executive director of what became the first bona fide union in professional sports, takes the occasion to provide some brutally frank and immensely engrossing perspectives on the revolution he helped unleash in the national pastime. With an uncredited assist from Allen Barra (a Village Voice columnist), the author unsentimentally recalls a turbulent era during which club owners lost a protracted battle to retain the reserve rule (which effectively bound players to one team in perpetuity), thereby obliging them to bid for the services of erstwhile chattels as free agents or deal through impartial arbitrators. Without understating his own pivotal role, Miller attributes many gains won by players to the recalcitrant stupidity of owners and their minions, including commissioners. He provides an insider's insight on collective bargaining major-league style and settles old scores with friends as well as foes. High on the author's hit list are the likes of Bowie Kuhn, avaricious agents, uncritical journalists prepared to accept the front-office line, and latter-day players, many of whom (in his view) seem to have forgotten how their sky-high salaries and pension benefits were come by. Oddly, Miller has some kind, or at least sympathetic, words for such consensus pariahs as Pete Rose, George Steinbrenner, and the late Walter O'Malley. He scoffs, though, at any notion that the freer market in talent that produced multimillion-dollar contracts for superstars and journeymen alike has undermined the diamond game, arguing persuasively that the principals in what remains an unregulated monopoly have participated fully in the record growth of attendance, revenues, TV ratings--and the value of their franchises. Eye-opening judgments on an institution that's as much an intensely commercial enterprise as a competitive sport from a sometime mover and shaker who's still calling spades bloody shovels. (Sixteen pages of photos--not seen)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55972-067-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991