Just last week Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association who is fighting an inoperable brain tumor, matter-of-factly discussed the possibility that he doesn't know how much longer he'll be able to perform his duties.
"We have an emergency contingency plan that's been in place for several months, and we are (close to) having a plan that will deal with a deputy executive director that will succeed and ultimately be voted on by the board in November," he explained during his annual pre-All-Star game meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The first step toward implementing that plan occurred Tuesday with the announcement that former Major Leaguer Tony Clark has been appointed to that newly-created position of MLBPA Deputy Executive Director. If Weiner, who is confined to a wheel chair and is unable to move his right side, becomes incapacitated before the board meeting, Clark will become interim executive director.
Clark, 41, retired during the 2009 season, after spending 15 seasons with the Tigers, D-backs, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and Padres. He had been serving as the MLBPA's Director of Player Services.
"Tony's rise within the union will come as no surprise to those who know him," said Weiner. "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."
Said Clark: "I am honored by this appointment and consider it a privilege to be in a position to work more closely with Michael Weiner. 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."
The appointment was confirmed and approved by the MLBPA's Executive Board by a vote of 26-0 during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
Clark attended his first Executive Board meeting in 1999 and quickly became involved in union affairs. He became a team player representative and then spent his last seven seasons as an Association Representative, one of two players to serve in the Union's most senior player-leadership position. As a player, he was actively involved in the collective bargaining negotiations in 2002 and 2006, as well as in negotiations over the Joint Drug Agreement and the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
"Tony has been a mentor, advocate and friend to all Major Leaguers," said Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees outfielder and player rep. "(This) appointment reflects the confidence the players have in Tony's ability to represent us on a daily basis. I wish him luck, and I look forward to working with him."
Added Royals player rep Jeremy Guthrie: "Tony has been protecting the rights of players for nearly 15 years and his collective bargaining experience has provided him with the requisite amount of leadership the position requires. The players are fortunate to have him working on their behalf."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.