Michael Weiner, 51; was leader of baseball players’ union

Michael Weiner and Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, in New York.
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press/file 2011
Michael Weiner and Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, in New York.

NEW YORK — Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, who forged agreements with the club owners that enhanced drug-testing and brought years of labor peace to the game after decades of strife, died Thursday at his home in Mansfield Township, N.J. He was 51.

Mr. Weiner, whose death was announced by the players association, had brain cancer. He announced in August 2012 that he had a brain tumor but continued in his post through the union’s representation of players implicated this year in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

Tony Clark, the union’s director of player services and a former major league first baseman, was promoted to the newly created post of deputy executive director in late July, becoming the second in command, a week after Mr. Weiner held a press conference during the All-Star break to discuss the Biogenesis case and his medical condition.


He had lost the ability to walk and to use his right arm.

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“What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy,” Mr. Weiner said, “and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”

While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, Mr. Weiner relinquished his dual position of general counsel in February.

In November 2011, Mr. Weiner’s union and the baseball owners reached a five-year labor agreement giving Major League Baseball the most comprehensive drug-testing program of any pro sports league in North America.

The 2011 agreement was Mr. Weiner’s third as the union’s lead negotiator. He headed the union after the long and often tumultuous tenures of Marvin Miller, a pioneering figure in the sports labor movement, and Donald Fehr, who took over the union leadership following the brief tenure of Ken Moffett, a former federal labor mediator, and retained it until retiring in December 2009.


Fehr is now the head of the NHL players union.

An informal presence at the bargaining table, partial to blue jeans, flannel shirts with no necktie, and high-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Mr. Weiner pressed his points without a hard edge. He was known for his mastery of contract details and his willingness to listen to and consider — though not necessarily accede to — management’s arguments.

Michael S. Weiner was born Paterson, N.J. He graduated from Williams College with a degree in political economy and from Harvard Law School.

Mr. Weiner leaves his wife, Diane Margolin, and three daughters, Margie, Grace, and Sally.