At the all-star break it became obvious to people throughout the game that union chief Michael Weiner’s condition was worse than most had realized. Weiner said the union had talked about a succession plan, and this week it made the first significant step in that plan by promoting former major leaguer Tony Clark to the new position of deputy executive director.
At a press conference before the All-Star Game in New York, Weiner revealed that his health had taken a significant turn for the worse in the year since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During a frank discussion with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America that covered topics ranging from his health to the most recent performance-enhancing drug scandal, Weiner said that the MLB Players Association would soon name someone to take over as executive director if Weiner becomes physically unable to continue working.
It named that successor in Clark, who has served as the union's director of player relations since 2010. Clark, 41, became active with the union after attending his first executive board meeting in 1999 and rose from player representative to association representative (the union's most senior player-representative position) before he retired as a player in 2009. Clark, selected by the Tigers with the second overall pick of the 1990 draft, took part in the union's negotiations in the 2002 and 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreements as well as the Joint Drug Agreement.
"I am honored by this appointment and consider it a privilege to be in a position to work more closely with Michael Weiner," Clark said in a release from the union. "I also look forward to continue working with all our members and the entire union staff, and together we will maintain our standing as one of the best labor organizations in the country."
Weiner has been praised by peers, adversaries and media members since taking over as executive director from Donald Fehr in 2009. That has only increased recently as he continues to work while battling his illness, most notably for his delicate balance of providing players involved in the Biogenesis drug scandal proper representation while also supporting drug testing and punishment. In Clark, Weiner said he believes he has found a successor who will continue giving players the best possible representation.
"Tony's rise within the union will come as no surprise to those who know him," Weiner said in a statement. "It was clear from the moment Tony joined the MLBPA that his on-field experience and passion for the fraternity of players would make him a tremendous advocate for all who play the game. I look forward to working closely with Tony as together we represent the interests of the players."