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Arbiter Rules for Players in Baseball Case

September 22, 1987

Major league baseball owners conspired to "destroy" free agency after the 1985 season, an arbitrator ruled Monday.

In his 16-page decision, arbitrator Tom Roberts wrote that the clubs' approach to free agency in 1985 was "not consistent with the existence of a free market" and that it violated the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.

The decision affects 62 free agents, including Kirk Gibson of the Detroit Tigers and California Angel relief pitcher Donnie Moore.

A player becomes a free agent after six seasons in the major leagues, which means he is free to accept contract bids from other teams. The union had maintained that owners had conspired with one another not to sign eligible free agents seeking to contract their services to the highest bidder.

Roberts will preside at hearings later this week to find remedies to the situation, and the owners' chief negotiator, Barry Rona, said: "We want to comply and we will comply. But I can't tell a club to engage in free agency or not."

The owners could take Roberts' ruling to court.

Details in Sports

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