During his years as a Wall Street lawyer, RN was almost tapped by Marvin Miller – the late Major League Player’s Association executive director and the man responsible for the concept of free agency in sports – as General Counsel.
Reason.com’s Matt Welch explains how the future 37th President offered his help to the union chief while the sports world was on the verge of change:
So what does this all have to do with Richard Nixon?
In 1966, as he was consolidating his position as union chief, Marvin Miller got a call from influential player representative and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. From A Whole Different Ball Game:
“Have you picked your general counsel yet?” he asked hesitantly.
“No,” I said, though I planned to offer the job to Dick Moss as soon as our funding was in place.
“Well, try this suggestion on for size. Richard Nixon is still interested in the job. I know you’re not a big fan of his,” Roberts said, “but he’s in New York. Will you at least go talk to him as a favor to me?”
True, I had never rooted for Dick Nixon, but I was a big Robin Roberts fan. I agreed to call Nixon and arrange an appointment after Robin assured me that this was not an attempt to limit my authority to name my general counsel. […]
Drinks in hand, Nixon, his associate, and I amiably rambled on about the 1966 season. Thirty minutes passed. I didn’t want to discuss politics, and I certainly was not going to bring up the matter of the next general counsel of the Players Association. Just before I was set to leave, Nixon’s expression turned serious, or rather more serious. Here it comes, I thought. “Mr. Miller,” he said, “you have a very difficult job in front of you. Let me know if I can do anything to help you. I am on very good terms with the owners.” I thought to myself, “Yes, I bet you are.” I expressed my thanks and headed home. He did not mention the appointment of a general counsel. And except for the gaffe about his closeness to the owners, I found him to be a lot brighter than I had guessed.
Three years later Nixon and I met again at a White House reception honoring baseball’s All-Star teams and commemorating baseball’s hundredth annniversary. When the crowd thinned, I approached President Richard M. Nixon. I was glad to see he had managed to find work after losing out on the Players Association job.