In Memoriam: Michael Weiner ‘86

Michael Weiner speaks at a press conference

Credit: Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images Michael Weiner ’86

One of the giants of modern day sports law, Michael Weiner ’86, a labor lawyer and the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, died Nov. 21, 2013. He was 51.

In a tribute to his colleague and HLS classmate, Dave Prouty ’86, general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association, described Weiner as the “most beloved man in baseball.”
Read the full tribute here:

REMEMBERING MIKE WEINER

The “most beloved man in baseball” died last November at the much-too-young age of 51. Mike Weiner, the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 1986, succumbed to an inoperable brain tumor after a courageous and very public fifteen-month battle.

Before reciting his many accomplishments, it is worth noting that Mike was in my eyes and those of many of our classmates both the smartest guy and the nicest guy we’ve ever known. To quote a leading national sportswriter’s obituary, “the next person who says a bad thing about Mike Weiner will be the first person who says a bad thing about Mike Weiner.”

Mike Weiner spent his entire professional career, after a two-year stint clerking for then-District Court Judge Lee Sarokin, as an attorney for the MLBPA. He and Rob Manfred (HLS Class of 1983) are rightly credited with bringing about a sustained era of labor peace in Major League Baseball, an industry that had certainly seen its share of labor strife over the previous three decades. But more than labor peace, Mike was as responsible as anyone for maintaining the MLBPA’s reputation as the strongest union in sports and among the strongest in the history of the labor movement. His dedication to the players was legendary, and his willingness to fight on behalf of each and every one of them – the superstars, yes, but even more importantly the players on the fringes, the ones who visited the majors for their proverbial “cup of coffee” – and his standard of excellence in doing so were an inspiration to those of us lucky enough to have worked with and for him.

But Mike’s job as Executive Director of the MLBPA, as all consuming as it could have been had he let it, hardly defined him. He was also, in no particular order but of equal importance in painting his portrait, an incredibly dedicated father-husband-son-brother, an inspiring Sunday School teacher and synagogue board member, a Bruce Springsteen fanatic, a voracious reader, a New Orleans JazzFest regular, a proud citizen of the State of New Jersey, a trivia master with a photographic memory, a loyal friend to many, many, many people across all spectrums, and a guy who never took himself too seriously  – and who never forgot to laugh, both at life and at himself.

Mike believed wholeheartedly in social justice and in workers’ rights. He and his wife Diane Margolin have been committed for many years in various ways to the provision of legal services for all in their home state of New Jersey. To honor his life and his memory, a group of his classmates in the Class of 1986 are working with Legal Services of Northwest Jersey, on whose board Diane still serves, to raise funds from fellow Harvard Law School alumni and others to provide for ongoing legal services for its clients, to help renovate the Legal Services office in Warren County, Mike’s home county, and to then rename that building the Michael Weiner Justice Center.

We hope that many who read this article and who knew Mike will contribute generously by going to the website, www.lsnwj.org.

Dave Prouty ’86 is the General Counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association. In 2008, after having worked since graduation as a union-side labor lawyer for UNITE HERE and its predecessors, he was recruited by his classmate and friend Mike Weiner to work at the MLBPA.