Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), died Thursday at the age of 51 following a 15 month battle with brain cancer. Weiner is being remembered around the baseball community as a selfless leader, engaged businessman and most poignantly as a friend to all who came across him.

His responsibilities included acting as the advocate for the players, from the All-Stars to the 40th man on each roster. And the newest collective bargaining agreement he helped sign in 2011 ensured there will be 21 consecutive years of labor peace in Major League Baseball.

Armed with a degree from Harvard law, Weiner joined the MLBPA in 1988 and he took the job of executive director from Donald Fehr in December, 2009. Fehr, the current executive director of the NHL player’s association, joined MLB Network Radio on Friday and talked about Weiner’s legacy.

The thing people talk about most often is […] his intelligence. He has a very quick grasp of things. Unafraid to speak his mind, unafraid to challenge you. Secondly, he had a very calm and relaxed demeanor. Took things in, never got rattled, never got excited. The third thing is he would puzzle his way through a problem to a reasoned solution. And then he, as we had to usually do, would communicate with players and either tell them what we think the best thing is to do or to persuade them. He had a way about doing that that could take the most complicated concepts and break them down into things which are really easy to understand and it’s a real skill.

Asked when he knew Weiner would be the perfect candidate to take over for him, Fehr pointed to the 2006 collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

“Not only could he do the job,” Fehr told Mike Ferrin and Mike Stanton, “but he had demonstrated an ability to command the respect of the people for whom he worked, and we work for the players. You can’t be the executive director without having the total and complete confidence of the players.”

Each team elects at least one player to represent their club to the player’s association for any union issues. Longtime player representative Jim Johnson worked with Weiner for several years as the Baltimore Orioles rep. He joined MLB Network Radio and mentioned how well respected Weiner was to the players.

“I was always amazed by how personable he was with each and every player,” Johnson said. “Every single issue that was brought to him. It was the way he was able to work through the issues and communicate with his players, there’s not many people that are going to be like him.

“It’s hard to replace someone like him, so it’s still kind of sinking in today.”

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