NEW YORK – Michael Weiner, the plain-speaking, ever-positive labor lawyer who took over as head of the powerful baseball players’ union four years ago and smoothed its perennially contentious relationship with management, died Thursday, 15 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was 51.
The Major League Baseball Players Association said Weiner died at his home in Mansfield Township, New Jersey.
“Michael Weiner worked even through his sickness. He didn’t look at it as an excuse to quit,” tweeted Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, the NL MVP. “He never gave up on us even when at his worst.”
As Weiner’s health deteriorated this summer, a succession plan was put in place. Former big league All-Star Tony Clark took over Thursday as acting executive director and is to be approved as Weiner’s successor when the union’s board meets from Dec. 2-5.
“Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today,” Clark said in a statement. “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.”
MLB commissioner Bud Selig called Weiner “a gentleman, a family man, and an extraordinarily talented professional who earned the trust of his membership and his peers.
“Our strong professional relationship was built on a foundation of respect and a shared commitment to finding fair solutions for our industry. I appreciated Michael’s tireless, thoughtful leadership of the players and his pivotal role in the prosperous state of baseball today,” Selig said in a statement.