Reading Eagle - May 26, 1980
Baseball Agreement Achieved, But Bargaining Scars Remain
NEW YORK (UPI) – The last-gasp negotiating which produced baseball’s new four-year agreement left a hangover of a possible strike in 1981 and the scars of heated debating.
That became clear when Ray Grebey, the clubowners’ negotiator, and Marvin Miller, executive vice president of the Major League Players Association, disagreed on the manner in which the key issue of compensation was handled. Each made it appear like a victory for his side.
In a two-page statement, Grebey said, “a compromise agreement on compensation paved the way to the new basic agreement.”
Grebey said a 4-man committee – with two men representing the owners and two the players – will be appointed and will meet by Aug. 1. The committee will review information and report to the clubs and players by Jan. 1, 1981.
That will open a 30-day bargaining period in which the clubs and the players will attempt to reach an accord which would become part of the basic agreement. If they do not reach an agreement by Feb. 1, the clubs may put into effect their current proposal for compensation for player selection rights.
At that point, the player have the right to reopen the portion of the basic agreement covering such compensation and to call a strike over the issue if necessary.
At a subsequent press conference, Miller said, “Our proposal was to put aside the issue of compensation and form a 4-man committee to study the issue. If the parties can’t reach an agreement in mid-February, 1981, the owners can say ‘this is what we are putting in the contract in 1981,’ but we then have the right to strike.
“Our attempt was to study the matter in good faith. The players are protected from the owners putting any arbitrary clause into the agreement. It is a safety valve that makes sense, make no mistake about it, the players will not, in 1981, accept a clause that turns back the clock.”
The disagreement seemed to be more of a hangover of the hard bargaining of the past few days than a substantial dispute that might endanger the agreement.
Among the gains Miller cited in the new agreement were:
- Raising players’ minimum salaries in stepups from $21,000 to $30,000 and then to $32,500 and $33,500 during the life of the agreement.
- Getting the owners to agree to contribute $15.5 million in each of the four years to the pension fund, compared to $8.3 million under the previous agreement. Miller said the total of $62.2 million coincided with the guideline of the players receiving 1/3 of the owners’ estimated $185 million in revenue from television.
- Doubling of payments from $10,000 to $20,000 for disabled players and commensurate gains for widows and dependents.
- Giving new life insurance policy benefits as well as additional hospital benefits.
Miller also said some important gains were made in the minimum standards for safety and health that would be maintained in the lockerrooms. The new agreement also calls for an increase in the limit on consecutive scheduled playing dates to 20, clarifies the definition of “salary” to eliminate contract administration problems and increases players’ expense allowances.
Baseball Today Disillusions Greenberg
By Will Grimsley, AP Special Correspondent
Back before World War II they called him “Hammerin’ Hank,” a strapping, good-looking product of the Bronx who loomed as the chief threat to Babe Ruth’s home run records.
In 1938, as a member of the Detroit Tigers, he propelled 58 baseballs out of the park – two short of the Babe’s season record. Shortly afterward a war came along and he swapped his baseball uniform for military khaki. The home run dream died.
Today, Hank Greenberg, 69, Hall of Famer, ex-super star, ex-owner, ex-general manager, is lean and straight as a cornstalk, graying a little at the temples, bouncy and vibrant enough to play five sets of tennis four days a week and totally disillusioned with the state of major league baseball.
“It is a shame that such important issues as these should be turned over to negotiators,” he said. “This is the result of erosion of power in the commissioner’s office.”
He is heartsick that a strike might have shut down one of America’s finest traditions. To hear him tell it, it is like outlawing mother and apple pie.
“I couldn’t imagine a thing like this happening in Landis’ time,” he said, referring to the late Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first and most inflexible boss. “He would never have let the situation reach such an impasse.
“I don’t blame Bowie Kuhn too much. He is a victim of circumstances. The erosion began back during the tenure of Ford Frick. I saw it begi. I have seen it grow. It is a tragedy for the game.”
Greenberg, successful Los Angeles investor, was in New York to be honored as the six-time winner of an annual sports celebrity tennis tournament, playing leading athletes half his age.
Pro basketball aces Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Earl “The Pearl” Monrow, one-time spring queen Wilma Rudolph, skier Suzy Chaffee and former Pittsburgh home run king Ralph Kiner were just a few of the celebrities who gathered in a New York restaurant Thursday to pay their respects.
The competition is for the Dewar’s Cup, played annually in Las Vegas. The 1980 dates are June 16-19.
With baseball in crisis, Greenberg’s hobby, tennis, got a general kiss-off. Guests gathered around the six-foot, youthful-looking sexagenarian to draw on his vast experience in a game which was his livelihood as player, executive and owner for some three decades.
“When you turn an issue over to the lawyers, they are going to keep it going for six months and more. You lose the personal touch. It is ridiculous. This is a good example of the weakness in the structure of baseball.”
Greenberg said friction between players and owners sharpened in 1933 when an auto firm paid $100,000 for radio rights. Both claimed the money rightfully belonged to them.
“Of course, when TV came in, the money got bigger and the dispute widened,” he recalled. “In 1953, owners wanted to shelve the pension plan. Players objected. Commissioner Frick refused to let the players be represented by a lawyer. A strike appeared inevitable.
“As general manager of the Cleveland Indians at the time, I got permission for Danny Galbreath of the Pirates and myself to meet with the two player representatives – Kiner of the National League, the Yankees’ Allie Reynolds of the American League.
“We resolved the problem. It was just personal contact, no outside bargaining. That was the beginning of the erosion of the commissioner’s power.
“For years after that, all we heard every time an important issue came up was the Frick statement that ‘It’s a league matter.’ It became a joke.”
Hammerin’ Hank, who was associated with Bill Veeck in running the Cleveland and Chicago White Sox franchises, recalled that in 1960 he had been awarded first shot at the American League franchise in Los Angeles.
“They told me LA was an open city. Later, they said I would have to pay an indemnity to Walter O’Malley of the Dodgers. Then I realized the commissioner wasn’t the commissioner of the whole game – players and fans – just the owners. It wasn’t for me.”
Schmidt, ‘Bull’ Power Phils
By United Press International
The Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski Show is ready for prime time.
Schmidt and Luzinski hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning Sunday to power the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros and a sweep of the three-game series.
It was the fourth time this year Schmidt and Luzinski hit consecutive home runs. Both have now hit 12 homers to share the National League lead.
Dick Ruthven picked up his fifth victory in eight decisions while Ken Forsch, 5-3, took the loss. Ruthven went eight innings and gave up eight hits.
Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first when Craig Reynolds tripled and scored on a Terry Puhl sacrifice fly. Cesar Cedeno tripled in the second and scored when Alan Ashby was safe on a Ruthven error.
Garry Maddox homered to open a three-run Philadelphia second. With two out, Manny Trillo doubled and Ruthven walked. Both moved up when Pete Rose was hit with a pitch and Bake McBride scored Trillo and Ruthven with a single to right.
Philadelphia made it 4-2 in the third when Luzinski doubled and scored on a single by Bob Boone.