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The FBI vs. Marvin Miller
May 15, 2013 10:17 AM   Subscribe

How America Commie-Baited A Baseball Hero
When Miller, who died last year at age 95, became the union's executive director in 1966, players were underpaid and bound to their teams for life. By the time he left in 1982, the reserve clause was dead, the MLBPA had become one of the strongest unions in the country, and the landscape of professional sports labor had been transformed.

It didn't come easy. Miller was vilified by owners and coaches—those who stood to lose something if players ever realized their value. When Indians manager Birdie Tebbetts called a team meeting to repeatedly denounce Miller as a "communist" and urged players not to vote for him, it was an echo of an older witch-hunt that had set its sights on Miller just after the war.

We've obtained Miller's FBI file through a Freedom of Information Act request. You can read the entire thing below, 82 pages of information gleaned from Miller's co-workers and friends, from FBI informants, from the trash of someone Miller may or may not have even known. All of this was done with the goal of determining if Marvin Miller was working toward the overthrow of the American government. Spoiler alert: He was not.
posted by Elementary Penguin (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Who was Philadelphia Confidential Informant T-4, the gimlet-eyed source who saw "Marv Miller"'s name on a list of people he "believed" to be Commies?

Philadelphia Confidential Informant T-4 was, quite literally, trash.
What we aren't told is that FBI agents feared that Informant T-4 would rat on them and ultimately shoot it and dumping the remains in an unmarked grave. RIP T-4.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2013


so few words, so many error ಥ_ಥ
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2013


Still reading, but serious question: Did the Federal Government ever issue an official apology (along the lines of that issued to interned Japanese-American citizens) to people whose lives were destroyed by the anti-communist witch hunts?

What really jumps out at me from what I've read so far is how closely this resembles the type of flimsy secret police dossier you'd see from a soviet bloc country about a persecuted intellectual. Great job you did differentiating yourselves from the enemy, boys.
posted by dry white toast at 10:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did the Federal Government ever issue an official apology (along the lines of that issued to interned Japanese-American citizens) to people whose lives were destroyed by the anti-communist witch hunts?

I tend to doubt it, really. Don't they still ask if you're a member of the Communist Party on US Visa applications? (Maybe it's just the forms for naturalization?)
posted by elizardbits at 11:17 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was going to snark that in order for them to apologize, they'd have to actually act like they wouldn't do it all over again. But then I realized that it's not so much an 'all over again' but 'still doing', damn it.

I was embarrassed when I got around to watching Ken Burns's Baseball how little I knew about Marvin Miller. He was a god damn American hero and I only wish more unions could have had Commies like that around when it would have made a difference.

(Put that in my permanent file!)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:29 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If people are interested in this kind of topic I believe Ed O'Bannon is waging the same kind of fight against the NCAA in the present.
posted by srboisvert at 11:30 AM on May 15, 2013


Don't they still ask if you're a member of the Communist Party on US Visa applications? (Maybe it's just the forms for naturalization?)

They ask if you are a terrorist now. (I'm not kidding).
posted by srboisvert at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, on face value it seems a valid question. I mean, I don't want someone to openly admit they are a terrorist and be given the freedom to roam... well, anywhere.

You know, except that one person's guerilla is another's freedom fighter. So yeah, that's pretty much a great indication of the logic put forth on the forms.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2013


What a great read. Thanks.
What a very DATED, and unrealistic, fear that it is possible for a person(s) to be able to overthrow the government in the way that they imagined.
Miller isn't alone. There are many other stories where someone was blacklisted, followed, even picked-up and questioned out of fear, and the loads of FBI files...when all this time-the Government had the power to destroy its self, carelessly, foolishly, steadily, from the inside, doing a far more superior job than any Commie, Muslim, any type of radical could ever dream of doing, just by electing it's own people.

If these kinds of files, based on suspicion and fear, are still being created in America by the FBI, I sure as hell hope that "those" people they are keeping a watchful eye on are our Congressmen and Women, Senators, Lobbyist, and Corporations.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:42 AM on May 15, 2013


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