MLBPA director Michael Weiner dies

New York, NY ( - Michael Weiner, who led the baseball players' union for the past four years and battled inoperable brain cancer for more than a year, has died. He was 51.

The union said Weiner died Thursday at his home in New Jersey surrounded by his wife, Diane, and three daughters.

Weiner continued to serve as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association after being diagnosed in August 2012 with an inoperable brain tumor.

"Lost a great friend today. ... One of the best leaders & men I knew," tweeted Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler, a player representative for the union since 2009.

Former All-Star Tony Clark has been elevated to the role of acting executive director of the MLBPA under a plan approved in July.

"First, I want to extend our sincerest, heartfelt condolences to Michael's wife, Diane, and daughters. Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today," Clark said in a statement.

"Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend. As one of the most beloved and respected members of the baseball community, Michael will be missed by all of us."

MLB commissioner Bud Selig called Weiner "a gentleman, a family man, and an extraordinarily talented professional who earned the trust of his membership and his peers throughout the national pastime."

"Our strong professional relationship was built on a foundation of respect and a shared commitment to finding fair solutions for our industry," Selig said in a statement. "I appreciated Michael's tireless, thoughtful leadership of the players and his pivotal role in the prosperous state of baseball today.

"Michael was a courageous human being, and the final year of his remarkable life inspired so many people in our profession. On behalf of Major League Baseball and our 30 clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Michael's wife Diane, their three daughters, his colleagues at the MLBPA and his many friends and admirers throughout the game he served with excellence."

Weiner was named executive director in December 2009, replacing Donald Fehr, who retired after leading the union since 1983.

"Mike was an extraordinary individual in so many ways: as a loving husband and father, as an exceptional union leader and lawyer, and as a great friend to so many," Fehr said in a statement released by the union. "He was an indispensable part of the MLBPA staff for more than two decades, and was the right man to lead the union.

"This is a great loss, for his family, for his friends, for the players, and for everyone who crossed his path."

Weiner joined the union in 1988 at the age of 26 and had served as its general counsel since 2004 before his promotion. As union head, he oversaw collective bargaining negotiations for the first time in 2011, leading to a five-year deal between the union and owners.

Among other things, his tenure also saw a restructuring of the playoffs, leading to the addition of a second wild-card team in both leagues, and the expansion of instant replay.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe called Weiner "an amazing man and an inspiration."

"The baseball community lost a good one today," Plouffe tweeted.

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