No Runs, No Hits And No Commish

Baseball owners are putting the search for a new commissioner on hold until after the strike. They want a salary cap and, without a meddling commish, stand a better chance of getting one.

Commissioner Bowie Kuhn resolved a player lockout in 1976, Peter Ueberroth settled a 1985 work stoppage, and Fay Vincent pushed to open training camps during a 1990 lockout. A big reason for Vincent's ouster, says Henry Aaron, a baseball-economics expert--not the slugger--"was to clear the deck before confrontation with the players."

Atlanta Braves Chairman William Bartholomay, head of the owners' search committee, confirms that a commissioner will be named shortly after a player deal is done. The owners don't want to thrust the new commish into the midst of a labor dispute, he says.

Dallas-based executive-search firm Eastman & Beaudine winnowed 350 applicants down to 22. The short list now has four names, which are top secret. Possible finalists include several pols, with soon-to-retire Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Me.) the likely front-runner. While the headhunters didn't speak to him, several owners did. Mitchell lacks business expertise, but his political ties more than compensate for that.


Tom Butters Duke University athletic director

WILLIAM HYBL former U.S. Olympic committee president

Paul G. Kirk former Democratic National Committee chairman

George Mitchell U.S. Senate Majority Leader


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