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posted: 12/1/2012 4:44 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Marvin Miller, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, talks to reporters in New York.

      Marvin Miller, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, talks to reporters in New York.
    Associated Press/April 3, 1972

 
From Daily Herald wire reports

Marvin Miller was a labor economist who never played a day of organized baseball. He preferred tennis. Yet he transformed the national pastime as surely as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, television and night games.

Miller, the union boss who won free agency for baseball players in 1975, ushering in an era of multimillion-dollar contracts and athletes who switch teams at the drop of a batting helmet, has died at 95.

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"I think he's the most important baseball figure of the last 50 years," former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said. "He changed not just the sport but the business of the sport permanently, and he truly emancipated the baseball player -- and in the process all professional athletes. Prior to his time, they had few rights. At the moment, they control the games."

Miller led players through three strikes and two lockouts. Baseball has had eight work stoppages in all.

When he took over, the union consisted of a $5,400 kitty and a battered file cabinet, and baseball's minimum salary was $6,000. By 1968, Miller had negotiated baseball's first collective bargaining agreement. By 1970, players obtained the right to take disputes to an arbitrator.

Nowadays, baseball's biggest stars make up to $32 million a season, the average salary is more than $3 million and the major league minimum is $480,000. While the NFL, NBA and NHL have salary caps, baseball does not.

Baseball's Hall of Fame refused to vote him in, despite five appearances on the ballot.

Mickey "Guitar" Baker, a guitarist who forged a link between rhythm-and-blues and early rock music and whose 1956 recording of "Love Is Strange" with singer Sylvia Robinson became a pop classic brimming with Latin rhythms and flirtatious banter, died Nov. 27 at his home near Toulouse, France. He was 87.

Baker's grounding in jazz guitar, coupled with his bluesy, at times distorted and aggressive sound propelled him to the front rank of New York studio guitarists in the 1950s.

On records, he accompanied singers Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan and Nappy Brown. Baker was particularly prolific at Atlantic Records, where his notable credits included The Robins' "Smokey Joe's Cafe" (1955), Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" (1954), Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (1954), and LaVern Baker's two biggest hits, "Tweedle Dee" (1954) and "Jim Dandy" (1956).

In the 1960s, Baker moved to France, where he produced records by French pop stars and accompanied visiting American blues and jazz musicians, such as saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.

In Zig Ziglar's world, the morning alarm rang on the "opportunity clock." And "if you aren't on fire" when you get to work, "then your wood is wet." And you have to remember that "money's not the most important thing in life, but it's reasonably close to oxygen." And there will be setbacks, but "failure is an event, not a person."

Ziglar, a motivational speaker whose "Success Rallies," "Born to Win" seminars, more than 25 self-help books and countless audiotapes attracted millions of devoted followers with homespun advice on career advancement and moral uplift, has died at 86.

His first book, "Biscuits, Fleas, and Pump Handles," published in 1974 and later retitled "See You at the Top," urged readers to reevaluate their lives with a "checkup from the neck up" and to quit their "stinkin' thinkin.' "

His book, "Confessions of a Grieving Christian," was written after the 1995 death of his oldest daughter, Suzan Ziglar Witmeyer, at the age of 46.

Martin Richards, the Tony Award-winning producer behind such Broadway hits as "On the Twentieth Century," "Sweeney Todd," and "The Will Rogers Follies," as well as an Academy Award-winning producer of the film "Chicago," has died after battling cancer. He was 80.

Hal Trosky Jr., who briefly played in the major leagues and was the son of the late Cleveland Indians great Hal Trosky Sr., has died. He was 76.

Trosky was born in Cleveland and played five seasons in the minors after being signed by the Chicago White Sox out of high school.

In 1958, he pitched two games for the White Sox. The Iowa Baseball Hall of Famer stopped playing after the 1961 season.

Dave Sexton, who led Chelsea to FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup victories in the 1970s, has died. He was 82.

Ernie Warlick, among pro football's first pass-catching tight ends and a member of the Buffalo Bills' two AFL championship teams in the 1960s, has died after a brief illness. He was 80.

Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved, has died. He was 73.

A Mississippi native, Guyot worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, which brought thousands of young people to the state to register blacks to vote despite a history of violence and intimidation by authorities. He also chaired the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sought to have blacks included among the state's delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The bid was rejected, but another civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, addressed the convention during a nationally televised appearance.

David Courtney, the veteran public address announcer for the Los Angeles Clippers, Kings and Angels, died Thursday. He was 56.

His announcing jobs led to voice roles in the movies "Tooth Fairy," "Angels in the Outfield," "61(asterisk)" and the TV show "Home Improvement."

Arthur Chaskalson, a civil rights lawyer who once helped defend Nelson Mandela and later became South Africa's chief justice, has died. He was 81.

Dean Brown, a starting offensive tackle on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team, has died. He was 44.

Charles V. Bush, who became the first African American to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court page in 1954 -- the same year the court desegregated public schools -- and later was one of the first black graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy, died Nov. 5 at his home in Lolo, Mont. He was 72.

Bush graduated from the Capitol Page School in 1957. He received a master's degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1964 and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1972.

Former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who gave a new impetus to improving India's relations with its neighbors during a term in office that lasted less than a year, died Friday after a yearlong illness. He was 92.

Erik Izraelewicz, 58, the top editor at France's leading daily newspaper, has died suddenly of a heart attack.

He had led Le Monde for about two years, after a career that included top jobs at some of France's leading business newspapers. In a statement, Le Monde journalists said Izraelewicz collapsed while working in his office Tuesday.

Jakes Gerwel, who advocated for the end of apartheid in South Africa and became a longtime friend and trusted aide to former President Nelson Mandela, has died at 66.

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