Allentown Morning Call - June 6, 1980

Major league owners ratify contract by 21-5 vote


CHICAGO (AP) – The major league owners, as expected, turned back opposition to the new baseball players basic agreement and ratified the contract by a 21-5 vote yesterday. 


"Some clubs had certain reservations over certain parts of it," said Lee MacPhail, American League president. "But it didn't mean that as a whole they would be opposed to it." 


St. Louis, Oakland, Minnesota, Cleveland and San Diego all voted against the pact. But a simple 14-12 majority with a minimum of five teams from each league was all that was required to approve the four-year agreement.


The Major League Players Association still has to vote on ratification. 


The key issue in the bargaining prior to the May 23 tentative agreement had been compensation for free agents. That item was put off and a four-man committee of players and owners will be appointed to discuss the issue and make recommendations by Feb. 1, 1981. If approved by both sides, the recommendation would become part of the contract.


Should a compromise not be reached by that date, the owners would be free to implement their compensation proposal and the players would be free to strike. 


On other matters, the new agreement increased the minimum salary from $21,000 to granted an increased allowance for players' expenses; increased owners' annual contribution to players' pension fund from $8.3 million to $15.5 million, and reduced the number of years of league experience required from three to two before a player can submit his contract to binding arbitration. 


Ray Grebey, the owners attorney, said St. Louis voiced the strongest opposition to the agreement during the meeting in a hotel at. O'Hare International Airport.


"The Cardinals feel we should have stood fast, rather than taking the compensation arrangement provided for next year," Grebey said. "They felt we should have insisted on it now or had a strike.”


Minnesota owner Calvin Griffith was also unhappy with the free agent compensation resolution. "I've lost too darn many Minnesota Twins (to free agency). If I spend a million dollars to develop a player so he can become a star and then go somewhere else and get more money, then I feel I should get something back in return," he said. 


Cleveland objected to the benefits package included in the contract.


“As a matter of principle we thought too much was given up in pension…” said Cleveland General Manager Gabe Paul. "We fully expected it the agreement to be ratified, but we felt we had to vote our conscience and principle.”


Oakland, San Diego and Minnesota did not state their reasons for rejecting the contract during the meeting, said Grebey, who added that the pact was discussed for about 30 minutes before the vote was taken. 


Expected opposition from California didn't materialize. Angels owner Gene Autry had circulated a letter seeking support against the agreement, but Buzzie Bavasi, the Angels representative at the meeting, voted for ratification. 


"He (Bavasi I stood up and said that despite the letter Mr. Autry had written, after he heard the presentation, California voted for the agreement,” Grebey said.


"He pointed out a couple of things that troubled the Angels," said MacPhail. "But he said that in balance that California was voting for it." 


Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn also attended the meeting and said the vote went pretty much as he expected it would. 


"We knew there would be some opposition." he said. "But it (the vote) shows a good solid round of support."