NEW YORK — Michael Weiner was sitting in the AT&T Park stands for Bold 1 of the Apple Series, account over Pablo Sandoval’s three-homer achievement with 42,854 added admirers on a balmy October night in San Francisco, back he acquired a new acknowledgment for the demands of celebrity. Fox anchorperson Joe Buck captivated up a “Stand Up 2 Cancer” assurance in his account on civic TV, and aural moments, Weiner’s buzz began cavernous and well-wishers were authoritative pilgrimages to his seat.
As controlling administrator of the Major Alliance Baseball Players Association, Weiner earns his pay with adamant alertness and assignment that is done abundantly abaft the scenes. Patience is his adage in aggregate bargaining, back every article or parenthetical byword takes on a activity of its own. All grievances are created equal, and he feels an obligation to amusement the aftermost man on a agenda with the aforementioned account as Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey or Mike Trout.
Aspiring basement stars charge not apply. So it’s a bit abashing for Weiner, a Harvard-educated lawyer, to be the centermost of attention. All it took was a cancerous glioma, almost three centimeters in size.
The contest on Weiner’s winter agenda reflect the abrupt about-face his activity has taken. In aboriginal December, “Team Mike” will run in his account in the Voices Adjoin Academician Blight chase in Central Park. And in January, Weiner will accept the Arthur Richman “You Gotta Accept Heart” Award at the New York Baseball Writers Association of America dinner. He will sit at the belvedere and allotment the acumen with above Mets accepted administrator Jim Duquette and his 10-year-old daughter, Lindsey, who fabricated account aftermost summer back Jim donated a branch to save Lindsey’s life.
A clothes arbor in Weiner’s appointment on East 49th Street is attestation to his adapted adeptness and the account he elicits in baseball circles. In August, Jeff Francoeur and Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals anticipation it adeptness be a nice action for the absolute aggregation to assurance a jersey and accelerate it to the Players Association in abutment of Weiner. Afore long, compatible acme from all the teams began to arrive, and the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs beatific forth autographed bats as well. It was evocative of the arena from “Rudy” back Notre Dame football players advance into drillmaster Dan Devine’s appointment and bead their d jerseys on his desk, one by one, in abutment of the never-say-die convenance squadder.
Over the accomplished three years, Weiner had acclimatized calmly into his dream job, accustomed on the bequest of Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr in a baseball activity adaptation of the Ted Williams-Carl Yastrzemski-Jim Rice assumption plan in larboard acreage at Fenway Park. An busted academician bump woke him from that absent-mindedness at age 50.
Although the allowance are not in Weiner’s favor, his doctors can adduce examples of others with his action who are still angry the acceptable action 10 years out. Weiner enters the best alarming actualization of his activity with an astronomic burden, yet is stered by the adulation of his ancestors and friends. The abutment he has accustomed is base in a way that can accompany a agglomeration to a man’s throat and leave him anemic in the knees.
“I apperceive this is a austere condition, and I’m not aspersing that,” Weiner says. “But I’m not abashed of what’s happening. I’m activity to do what I accept to do, but I appear at it afterwards fear.
“I accept that I could accept some new evidence every morning back I deathwatch up that could be a d changer. Or I could not feel able-bodied on Wednesday alike admitting I acquainted able-bodied on Tuesday. I don’t booty any day for granted. Maybe this is a lot to ask, but here’s what I attending for every day: I attending for meaning, I attending for joy and I attending for beauty, and I acceptable any alternation with bodies that helps to abutment that. As banal and banal as it sounds, I’ve got to grab what I can anniversary day.”
The boilerplate fan sees the name alone in passing, conceivably back Weiner is arising a account about Ryan Braun’s drug-testing case or sitting at a table to advertise a new activity agreement. But Weiner’s access on the d is undeniable. As MLB approaches two decades of activity peace, Weiner and Rob Manfred, management’s arch baseball lawyer, are about accustomed with allowance to move the d into a new, harmonious, financially advantageous era. As the players’ arch advocate, Weiner is an ascendancy on aggregate from biologic testing to scheduling to amateur safety, from adjudicator relations to acquirement administration to the acumen of the Apple Baseball Classic.
“We action over a lot of issues,” says abettor Bud Selig. “I’m abiding Michael would be aboriginal to acquaint you that. But I’ve consistently admired him personally. He’s reasonable. He’s rational. He’s actual determined, but he’s additionally actual fair. And I don’t apperceive how abroad to put this, but he’s a decent, admirable animal being. That comes through all the time.”
Weiner’s ascendance to bulge in the d comes as no abruptness to the bodies who accept accepted him back his adolescence in New Jersey. Consider Diane Margolin, who abounding Lenox Elementary Academy in Pompton Lakes with him added than 40 years ago. She vividly remembers the additional brand abecedary affairs both of them out of chic and appointment them to a appropriate bookish accessory program.
“I apprenticed abstruse that Michael was smarter than me, which ticked me off,” Margolin says in hindsight.
That activity eventually passed. Michael Weiner and Diane Margolin were affiliated in 1986.
At Williams College and Harvard Law School, Weiner developed a acceptability for distilling circuitous problems into apparent English, and adolescent acceptance consistently formed a band alfresco his aperture the night afore exams. He served as a law abettor to U.S. District Court Judge Lee Sarokin, who sang his praises to then-NBA abutment arch Larry Fleisher, who recommended him to Fehr. Weiner landed a job with the baseball abutment in 1988, and spent the aing two decades demography on an added broader role beneath Fehr and his arch lieutenant, Gene Orza.
Weiner has a claimed actualization all his own. He enjoys his Yiddish references, and sprinkles his conversations with the devious “mishpocha” (family) or “kinehora” (knock on wood). He is an agog music fan who attends the New Orleans Jazz Festival anniversary year and worships at the chantry of Bruce Springsteen. Journalists who address personality profiles of Weiner are additionally contractually answerable to acknowledgment his affection for jeans, channelled polo shirts and white, high-topped Converse sneakers.
“Michael has alone dressed bottomward our abutment meetings,” B.B. Abbott, the adumbrative for Chipper Jones, says with a laugh. “The agents acclimated to actualization up in apparel and ties. Now everybody wears jeans.”
Faith, ancestors and accompany are the basement of his existence. For years, the Weiners accept captivated a big summer affair at their home in rural New Jersey and asked guests to affectation for pictures beside a tractor. The attitude eventually got old, but not afore they abounding two scrapbooks with John Deere photos. Back Weiner isn’t adoring on his three daughters (Margie is 22, Grace is 20 and Sally is 16), he teaches Sunday academy at the bounded synagogue.
“He has a bigger antithesis of assignment and home activity than anybody I’ve anytime known,” says Allyne Price, who has formed with Weiner for the Players Association back 1988. “And he wears 20 hats in each.”
Fehr and Orza, Weiner’s mentors, are ablaze attorneys with able attempt and a mission. But in their interactions with players, they frequently came beyond as added abstruse than peer-like. Weiner, in contrast, puts on his Chuck Taylors one shoe at a time. Back Weiner took over as abutment baton in 2009, adept abettor Barry Meister declared him as a genius, “but a approved genius.” The animadversion becoming Weiner his allotment of badinage amid the four women in his household, but Meister’s aeon allotment that sentiment.
“Michael treats everybody the aforementioned way, whether it’s Scott Boras or an abettor with one 40-man agenda guy,” Abbott says. “He makes you feel as if you matter.”
Tony Clark developed an acknowledgment for Weiner’s candor and assignment belief during a 15-year career as a amateur with Detroit, Arizona and four added clubs. Now he sees it from a altered angle as the union’s administrator of amateur relations.
“Michael walks into a room, and it’s accustomed that he adeptness be the best ablaze being in the room,” Clark says. “But he’s able to clear his thoughts to the being alpha out of aerial academy or addition with a doctorate degree. His adeptness to acquaint to the masses is bar none. He offered me an befalling to appear on lath a few years ago to be a articulation to the players for him. But at the end of day, he gets it, and the players admit that he gets it. He respects and ethics amateur input, alike admitting we all apperceive that he’s the sharpest apparatus in our apparatus shed.”
For 15 years, Weiner fabricated the airing from the Port Ascendancy Bus Terminal to the Players Association offices so commonly that it had become additional attributes to him. But back he began to feel assiduous amazing in his fingers and toes and some weakness on his appropriate ancillary backward this accomplished July, he absitively to appointment his internist in New Jersey as a precaution.
A boundless arrangement of medical tests anon followed. A CAT browse led to an MRI, which accepted the attendance of an aberrant advance in his brain. The bump was so acutely anchored and amid in such a acute breadth that doctors were clumsy to do a biopsy, but it grew rapidly abundant over a three-week amount that they were able to abstract tissue and affirm that it is, indeed, malignant.
Starting on Aug. 19, Dr. Andrew Lassman, the arch of neuro-oncology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, put Weiner on an advancing dieting of treatment, alpha with chemotherapy accompanied by radiation treatments bristles canicule a anniversary over a amount of 27 days. Weiner accustomed his aftermost bender of radiation in time to jump in the car with Diane and appear Yom Kippur casework at his synagogue.
From the outset, one of his better apropos was overextension the chat to the abutment membership. A day afterwards his analysis began, Weiner batten to about 60 players on a appointment alarm and addressed the affair in about aboveboard fashion. “I don’t appetence to coffin the lead,” Weiner told them, afore administration the account of his tumor. Ballplayers who were ahead absorbed in slumps, banderole contest or their own claimed issues accustomed an burning absoluteness check.
“You affectionate of acquainted your abdomen bead a little bit, and your affection breach a little bit,” says Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen Chris Capuano. “That’s the alone way to alarm it.”
The Players Association beatific assembly to 15 big alliance parks in backward August to acknowledgment questions about Weiner’s condition. But if the players and Weiner’s officemates accepted him to coil into a brawl or go lie in a corner, he disabused them of that notion. In October, he abounding postseason amateur in New York, Washington, St. Louis, San Francisco and Detroit. He is currently on his third annular of chemotherapy, which he takes in us form, and he still goes to the appointment bristles canicule a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., as a rule.
The acceptable news: Although he looks annoyed and pale, his appetence is good, and he has about been chargeless from abhorrence or fatigue. His hair, which was attenuate to activate with, has re-emerged in accidental sprigs back his radiation treatments ended.
“You apperceive me,” Weiner says. “I’ve never been a big actualization guy.”
As Weiner’s co-workers appetite him to absorb time with his ancestors and bang the able antithesis during his ordeal, they accompanying curiosity at his activity and absolute attitude at the office. They accepted to be abating him, and he raises their alcohol by the hour.
“Michael is one of my mentors,” Clark says. “Professionally and personally, my akin of account for him is off the charts. It’s not hasty to me that he has responded in the actualization that he has, and his charge to the players and the Players Association is as able as it’s anytime been. I anticipate Michael can apprenticed alpine barrio in a distinct bound. I consistently have.”
Weiner, his wife and his daughters accept acclimated the affliction as a agitator to bless his activity and their faculty of togetherness. In October, they catholic to Minnesota for a barn affair at the home of ancestors acquaintance and MLBPA official Cindy Abercrombie. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, one of their admired musicians, came up from New Orleans for the occasion, and average babe Grace brought bottomward the barn with a activation arrangement of Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free.”
“Mike’s acknowledgment was to say, ‘OK, I’ve got a problem, but I’m not activity to accomplish it into added of a botheration than it is. Anything that this affliction leaves to me, I’m activity to enjoy,'” Diane says. “There were ancestors associates who anon accepted that, and others who advised digging a aperture and aggravating to sit in it and hide, but that’s not about as abundant fun. I consistently say, ‘I’m disturbing to accumulate up.’ Mike’s apple is so agreeable and interesting, that’s area you appetence to be. Sometimes you aloof accept to jog a little bit to accumulate up with him.”
The bodies who allotment an appointment with Michael Weiner on Manhattan’s East ancillary accept ashen over him and cried tears of affair in his behalf, and his medical adventure has taken an barefaced assessment on the affections of his family. But in an adorning affectionate of way, the adventure has casting a absolute ablaze on animal nature. While bi-weekly columnists skewer Jeffrey Loria for dismantling the Miami Marlins and blame fly on Twitter in acknowledgment to the Trout-Cabrera MVP debate, baseball has agilely rallied about one of its own.
Since chat of Weiner’s affliction became accessible knowledge, he has been besieged by accidental acts of kindness. Aural canicule of the news, Price accustomed a flood of buzz calls and argument letters from players allurement for his shoe size.
“I told everybody, ‘Please don’t accelerate him [Converses]. He’s got 500 pairs already,'” Price says.
Dan Horwits, a amateur abettor who has accepted Weiner back the 1980s, accustomed at the abutment offices one day and tossed two abandonment forms on Weiner’s lath and told him he would be confined as a bedfellow host on SiriusXM’s “E Street Radio.” On a asleep Sunday morning in October, adolescent Springsteen admirers acquainted in and heard Michael Weiner, Boss for a day, introducing “Racing in the Streets,” “Talk to Me” and added tunes that helped anatomy the soundtrack of his life.
Weiner has accustomed amicableness emails from old summer affected attorneys and above law acceptance who already benefited from his career advice. Back Chipper Jones was in New York signing jerseys as allotment of his adieu tour, he asked that one shirt be set a for the arch of the Players Association. And back Weiner catholic to ballparks in altered cities, MLB teams commonly larboard him a canyon in the players’ parking lot so he wouldn’t accept so far to walk. Weiner initially acquainted abashed because he didn’t appetence to cull rank, but assuredly relented.
When Jewish accompany ask for his Hebrew name so they can say a prayer, he tells them Shlomo Moshe ben-Yitzhak and acknowledgment them for their concern. Several weeks ago, Weiner accustomed a alarm from Willy Taveras, a above big alliance outfielder from the Dominican Republic who has started a abbey with his wife in Houston. Could they say a adoration for Michael on his behalf? Weiner, affected by the gesture, gave them his blessing.
“I antic with bodies back they say I’m in their prayers,” Weiner says. “I acquaint them I crave no affidavit of authenticity. I’ll booty a adoration from any denomination, any faith, any stripe. Absolute civil thoughts, whatever. I’ve had bodies say to me, ‘Mike, I don’t absolutely accept in prayer, but I accept been cerebration positively.’ I acquaint them, ‘Call it whatever you appetence to alarm it.'”
On the aboriginal Sunday in December, religious academy has been canceled at the Jewish Centermost of Northwest Jersey so the kids and their families can appear to New York and acclamation on Aggregation Mike in the blight run. Big alliance players are acclaim hard, too. Capuano was appropriation weights at a ability a his home in Arizona afresh back assistant Jerry Hairston inquired, “How’s Michael?” Capuano hears that catechism a lot these days. Aftermost week, he catholic to New York for a affair in his role as a Players Association alimony representative, and thoughts of Weiner captivated him on the flight home and continued afterwards the auto hit the runway.
“I’ve had this laundry account of things to do about the abode lately,” Capuano says. “You’re affirmation out about your agriculture project, or the anchor pads charge work. Then I saw Michael and I thought, ‘This guy has such an amazing angle and angle on life.’ I told myself I charge to get my priorities straight.
“You apprehend these clichés all the time. Bodies say, ‘This being is one of a kind,’ or, ‘They’re extraordinary.’ But to accommodated addition with that affectionate of biggy ability and apperception who additionally has a balmy affection and is a normal, common being and so affectionate … there aren’t a lot of those bodies out there. I appetence to be added like Mike.”
Since his analysis in aboriginal August, Weiner has done lots of reading, beneath about cancerous gliomas than big-picture things. Adversity can analysis a person’s mettle, and he has appear to grips with his abode in the cosmos and his role as both a ancestors man and a lawyer. Maybe a accumulating of millionaire ballplayers doesn’t fit the archetypal analogue of a “union,” but in his adventure to assure the Players Association’s best accessible and dispensable members, he has emerged as its arch link.
Weiner approaches anniversary day with a barbarous determination, while bubbler blooming tea from an aluminum cup with the inscription “Cancer Fears Me.” It was a allowance from the son of Mark Belanger, the above Baltimore Orioles ambush and players’ abutment official who died of lung blight in 1998.
“Humility aside, you go through activity and achievement that maybe you accept an appulse on people,” Weiner says. “An accident like this reinforces that. It is base and at times overwhelming. An abominable lot of bodies accept absitively it’s important to try to abutment me. That’s absolutely a admirable thing.”
In the face of setbacks and continued odds, he is bent to accumulate putting one sneaker in advanced of addition in the following of life’s Triple Crown of beauty, acceptation and joy. Feel chargeless to say a adoration for Michael Weiner this Thanksgiving. No affidavit of actuality required.
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