Sign in / Join

Marvin Miller on the drug issue

Only Baseball Matters points to a gem: Alan Barra's 2002 interview with Marvin Miller on the drug issue. Miller is as thoughtful and feisty as ever. In the current climate, his defense of player rights is sure to rub some the wrong way, but as always his position rests on solid ground. The interview is must-reading to put the entire issue in historical context. Here's a sample:

Barra If I'm not mistaken, the Players Association and Major League Baseball spent a lot of time trying to work out a drug policy some time in the mid-'80s. What happened?

Miller Well, we did work out a drug policy in 1984, or at least I thought we had one worked out. Peter Ueberroth, the commissioner of baseball at the time, obviously changed his mind after the fact. We agreed on a neutral panel of three doctors who were experts on the subjects of drugs and drug testing, and agreed on a policy of revolving examination.........And then, one day in 1985 Ueberroth astonished both Don Fehr [who succeeded Miller as head of the players union] and myself by going on television during a national telecast and announced that he was voiding the existing drug program because it didn't have mandatory testing. Don Fehr told him, in essence, to go to hell. Ueberroth was so arrogant he didn't seem to understand that he was undermining any possibility of instigating a drug program by tossing out the window what we had achieved through collective bargaining. Incredibly, in 1986, he tried again. Without even bothering to consult the union, he sent a letter to every major league player urging them to submit to voluntary drug tests.

Miller and OBM defend the players' position more vigorously than I would. But when Miller talks, I listen. It's a shame Ueberroth wasn't listening 20 years ago.