I did not know Michael Weiner personally, but I wish I had. Since his death on Thursday of brain cancer at the age of 51, the eulogies have poured in from around the country, and by all accounts Weiner was the embodiment of what it means to be mensch.
A happily married man and a loving father of three daughters, Michael Weiner served as the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) since 2009, and had been involved in the business of baseball for many years. He was most widely known, respected, admired, and loved as a professional of uncommon ability, skill, integrity, decency, compassion, empathy, and humility.
Michael Weiner loved baseball. He loved the players and recognized that without them there would be no game. The business of the game, though important, in his mind and heart was secondary to the integrity of the game and the well-being of its players. He was so effective at building consensus in labor issues and so deft at simplifying and making understandable to lay people (he was a Harvard Law grad) complex legal and contractual language, that of the four major sports in the United States only Major League Baseball has been successful in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement ensuring 21 consecutive years of labor peace, largely because of Michael Weiner.
As if all this weren’t enough, Weiner also taught Sunday School at the Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey, and, as one might assume, the children adored him.
As Weiner’s cancer progressed (he was first diagnosed in August, 2012) he reflected about his life. It is this statement that led me to write this blog of memorial to a man I did not know personally. Its message is what all of us ought to emulate:
“As corny as this sounds I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”
Zichrono livracha – May Michael Weiner’s memory be a blessing, and may his family and loved ones find comfort among all mourners in Zion and Jerusalem. Amen!
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