Miller, who retired and became a consultant to the union in 1982, led the first walkout in the game's history 10 years earlier. On April 5, 1972, signs posted at major league parks simply said: "No Game Today." The strike, which lasted 13 days, was followed by a walkout during spring training in 1976 and a midseason job action that darkened the stadiums for seven weeks in 1981.
Baseball had eight work stoppages through 1995 but has labor peace since then. Meanwhile, labor turmoil has engulfed the other major U.S. pro leagues.
"Marvin exemplified guts, tenacity and an undying love for the players he represented," NFL players' union head DeMaurice Smith said. "He was a mentor to me, and we spoke often and at length. His most powerful message was that players would remain unified during labor strife if they remembered the sacrifices made by previous generations."
Slightly built and silver-haired with a thick, dark mustache, Miller trained as an economist and was anything but passive in his dealings with baseball owners.
"Marvin Miller was a highly accomplished executive and a very influential figure in baseball history," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "He made a distinct impact on this sport, which is reflected in the state of the game today, and surely the major league players of the last half-century have greatly benefited from his contributions."
Former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said Miller should be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame "without question."
"He changed the game of baseball," Ueberroth said. "He was very tough, but he was very fair in the end."
Miller's ascension to the top echelon among sports labor leaders was by no means free from controversy among those he represented. Players from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, California Angels and San Francisco Giants opposed his appointment as successor to Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Robert Cannon, who had counseled them on a part-time but unpaid basis.