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Steinbrenner Shuffles Jobs One Last Time : Yankees: Before signing his resignation letter, owner makes Gene Michael the team's general manager and demotes Peterson to adviser. Request for restraining order turned down.

August 21, 1990|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — George Steinbrenner signed his resignation letter Monday, effectively ending his 17 1/2-year grip on the New York Yankees. But he played the Boss until the finish, making one final change by again naming Gene Michael general manager.

Steinbrenner had until midnight Monday to give up control of the team under an agreement reached July 30 with Commissioner Fay Vincent.

A last-ditch effort by two limited partners to keep him in charge failed Monday when a federal judge in Cleveland turned down a request for a temporary restraining order.

"Deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg has been assured by Mr. Steinbrenner's lawyers that the resignation will be on his desk the first thing Tuesday morning," Rich Levin, a spokesman for Vincent said.

The legal maneuvering, however, may not be over.

An attorney for the two limited partners said he wanted to appeal U.S. District Judge Alice M. Batchelder's decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Cincinnati. But Patrick McCartan, one of Vincent's attorneys, said a judge's decision on a temporary restraining order cannot be appealed.

McCartan said the lawsuit would now progress to the next stage, the partners' request for a preliminary injunction against the July 30 agreement. He said it would probably be a couple of weeks before a hearing is set.

Steinbrenner, at a news conference at Yankee Stadium before Monday night's game against Toronto, said his resignation letter was signed and would be submitted by midnight.

"I've always said 10 years is maybe enough for a corporate chief executive," he said. "Perhaps it's time for a change."

He also changed general managers for the 14th time, taking the job away from Pete Peterson and giving it to Michael.

Michael, a former player and coach for the Yankees, also was the club's general manager in 1980. This time, he was given a three-year contract.

Peterson will remain with the team as a special adviser to the general manager. Vice president George Bradley will stay and be in charge of the minor league department.

"I think we'll work fine together," Michael said. "I'm going to handle the major league part of it. I couldn't be happier. I've been with this organization for 21 years."

Michael began this season as a scout, became the "eye-in-the-sky" and was working as an advance scout when he was appointed general manager.

Steinbrenner switched managers 18 times during his tenure. His front office, coaches and players seemed to change equally often.

"There have been a lot of mistakes, but there have been a lot of good decisions," Steinbrenner said.

"I just wanted to show you I'm not remorseful, that I'm not in grief," he said. "Actually, I feel pretty good about things."

Under terms of the agreement with Vincent, Steinbrenner can attend games at Yankee Stadium as long as he buys a ticket. He cannot sit in the owner's box.

During Monday's hearing, Batchelder ruled that the two limited partners failed to show that Steinbrenner's agreement to resign as general partner was obtained under duress from Commissioner Fay Vincent.

"Plaintiffs did not present evidence that this settlement was anything other than an unpleasant choice that Mr. Steinbrenner made," Batchelder said. "The evidence presented here was far from persuasive."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Daniel R. McCarthy and Harold M. Bowman, part owners of the Yankees. In the suit, they contend that Vincent's investigation of Steinbrenner's association with gambler Howard Spira was an "inquisition" that resulted from the commissioner's personal dislike of Steinbrenner's hands-on style.

During the hearing, baseball's attorneys referred to the precedent of former Oakland owner Charles O. Finley's failed lawsuit against former commissioner Bowie Kuhn and called on the judge to uphold the authority of the commissioner.

"This is a big boy," McCartan said of Steinbrenner. "He signed a contract with the commissioner."

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