Visitors entering the 30th-floor lobby of Major League Baseball’s old headquarters on Park Avenue in New York a few years back would immediately encounter 30 mannequins, one for each of the league’s teams. The display was impressive, but some players who visited the offices couldn’t help but notice what each mannequin was missing: its head.
“Why should the Angels jersey not have a face when you have Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani?” asks Andrew Miller, referring, respectively, to one of the greatest offensive players of all time and the Japanese star seen by many as the second coming of Babe Ruth. An MLB spokesperson says the installation was intended to show off the uniforms for the benefit of merchandisers and licensees. But for Miller, the display was symbolic of how the league sees its players. “There’s not a whole lot of respect coming from them toward us at times,” says Miller, a 36-year-old reliever and one of the eight players on the executive subcommittee of the Major League Baseball Players Association. “It’s almost like they dehumanize who the players are and what they bring. We just become chess pieces.”