Wilmington Morning News - May 9, 1980

Baseball owners zero in on key issues


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


NEW YORK (AP) - Compensation for free agents, the key issue in baseball's labor negotiations, was discussed at yesterday's bargaining session between Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, and Ray Grebey, agent for the 26 major league owners.


Miller has been critical that the talks, which began before the contract expired last Dec. 31, had not involved the major issues.


"We have discussed a lot of issues that had to be dealt with," said Grebey before both sides broke for lunch. "Since April 1, we have dealt with the issues the players have put on the table, and these issues have been given the respect they deserve. However, just before the lunch break we spent almost an hour on compensation."


Currently, the only compensation a team losing a free agent gets is an amateur draft choice. The owners favor some form of major league player compensation for the team losing a free agent. The players have staunchly opposed any compensation of this type, explaining it would hamper player movement.


Miller was not immediately available for comment.


"I wouldn't say that we're so far apart," said Grebey. "However, it took a lot longer to put a man on the moon than these negotiations so far."


The players have set a May 22 strike deadline for a contract settlement.


"I am guardedly optimistic and feel that the deadline has been artificially created by the players association to bring pressure to bear," said Grebey. "Why can't we continue to talk and work on the problems and continue to play baseball?"


Lee MacPhail, president of the American League who attended the session, also saw no need for a strike deadline.


"I don't see any reason why we can't go on meeting as long as necessary," said MacPhail. "There's a lot of ground to cover and I think both sides are sincerely trying."