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Ueberroth Doubts Owner Support : Says He Wouldn't Be Reelected If Vote Were Taken Today

December 10, 1987|Associated Press

DALLAS — Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said here during baseball's winter meetings that he wouldn't be reelected if the club owners put a second term to a vote today.

Ueberroth, well into his five-year term, said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that he wouldn't have the support now of enough owners to win another term if he wanted it.

"If I needed to get reelected right now, if I needed six votes, I wouldn't be able to put that together," said Ueberroth, whose term expires in January, 1989. He would require support from 14 of 26 club owners for reelection.

He said that the nature of his job is such that he constantly is "making decisions between two teams, two leagues or two something else."

"I started to realize that in my first 10 days with the umpires' strike (in 1984)," Ueberroth said. "There are still some (owners) who have not forgotten that."

Ueberroth said, among other things, that:

--The commissioner should be elected by and paid by the players and umpires as well as owners.

--He would not want to alter the rules regarding the designated hitter during the regular season or postseason but would favor using designated hitters in the All-Star game.

--He favors expansion but opposes the relocation of existing franchises.

--He has purposely limited his media exposure in the last 1 1/2 years because of accusations that he was using his job as a steppingstone to politics.

--He is encouraged by the recent developments of efforts to improve the hiring opportunities for minorities in baseball.

"I think the facts will say I'm a pro-active (commissioner)," Ueberroth said, assessing his term in office. "I have made more decisions--good, bad and indifferent--than anyone since the first (commissioner)."

The decisions, Ueberroth said, are what create the uncertainty of his future as commissioner when the current term expires.

Ueberroth said three surveys on the designated hitter--by his office in 1985 and 1986 and a more recent one by Sports Illustrated--showed fan opinion split.

"My tendency is to not do anything at all, unless there is a major change in the poll of fans," he said. "They have all said the same things. Fans are about 50-50, and the variations that take place are in cities with National League teams, where they are way against it, and American League teams, where they are way for it."

Ueberroth said that support of the designated hitter was his reason for changing the World Series so that the DH is used at home American League sites but not National League stadiums. Ueberroth said the designated hitter definitely belongs in the All-Star games, which would make it easier for managers to use every position player.

"Take (Jose) Canseco last year, who came all the way to Houston, was the one representative of Oakland, was a rookie and someone people watched during batting practice, and sat on the bench," Ueberroth said. "But I have alienated the National League on enough issues already."

On expansion, Ueberroth said he foresees the day when the major leagues will have 32 teams, with eight 4-team divisions in a realigned format, and interleague play. Ueberroth said he could see the possibility of adding a team in Canada--probably Vancouver--and Havana, "if the political situation ever changes."

Ueberroth said he tried to ignore reports of his political ambitions, but that they affected his efforts.

"Every time I said anything, there were those who felt I was just doing it so I can run for the Senate against Alan Cranston (in California)," Ueberroth said. "Finally, the day of filing came (for the office), and nothing happened."

Ueberroth said the accusations of publicity-seeking led to his becoming less visible.

"That's why I have not had a press conference in the last year and a half," he said.

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