Michael Weiner, who took over as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 2009, died Thursday, 15 months after he was diagnosed with a malignant inoperable brain tumor. He was 51. Weiner died at his home in New Jersey, according to a release from the Players Association.
Weiner first joined the MLBPA in 1988 and served as the union’s general counsel from 2004 until 2009, when he succeeded long-time union head Donald Fehr and became the fifth executive director in the association’s history.
As the executive director, he was instrumental in the negotiations of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement that extended baseball’s record era of labor peace through the 2016 season. It was a point of pride for Weiner, who was at the union during the 1994 strike and told MLB.com in 2012 that during his time at the union, there developed a “a mutual respect for the bargaining process and for the bargaining parties — by the owners, for the players, and by the players, for the owners — that didn’t exist when I started.”
“I’ve worked here since 1988,” Weiner said then, “so I’ve been involved in difficult negotiations that have led to long stoppages, including a strike that led to the cancellation of the World Series. I’ve been involved in three negotiations now that haven’t involved a stoppage. That’s a great achievement. I think everyone involved is proud of that.”
Weiner dealt with cancer in a hopeful but frank manner, working until his final days even though doctors gave him just 12 to 16 months to live at the time of his August 2012 diagnosis. “I want to live,” he told ESPN in October. “I’m 51 years old, and I want to live until I’m 151 years old, and I hope we find some miracle. But I’d be lying if I said I was thinking past our executive board meeting.”
The MLBPA’s deputy executive director, former player Tony Clark, will assume the role of acting executive director, according to a release from the MLBPA. “First, I want to extend our sincerest, heartfelt condolences to Michael’s wife, Diane, and daughters,” Clark said in a statement. “Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have had for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today. Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend. As one of the most beloved and respected members of the baseball community, Michael will be missed by all of us.”
“All of Major League Baseball mourns the loss of Michael Weiner, a gentleman, a family man, and an extraordinarily talented professional who earned the trust of his membership and his peers throughout the national pastime,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Michael was a courageous human being, and the final year of his remarkable life inspired so many people in our profession. On behalf of Major League Baseball and our 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Michael’s wife Diane, their three daughters, his colleagues at the MLBPA and his many friends and admirers throughout the game he served with excellence.”