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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE MAJOR LEAGUES

No Probe Into Death Threat to Mitchell

September 21, 1996|Associated Press

Authorities plan no investigation of the death threat they confirmed Friday was made against Cincinnati outfielder Kevin Mitchell. But Mitchell denied that someone was trying to kill him.

Meanwhile, the Reds said that Mitchell's suspension from the team was not related to the threat.

"I can confirm there was an alleged threat that the San Diego FBI is aware of. But no investigation has been opened, nor is one planned," said Ed Boldt, spokesman for the FBI's Cincinnati office.

Boldt would not say why the FBI was not investigating and declined to comment further.

The Dayton Daily News, citing sources it did not identify, said the threat against Mitchell was revealed last week while the Reds were in Los Angeles. The newspaper, which did not say who might have threatened Mitchell, said the FBI in Los Angeles wanted Mitchell to come in for questioning, but he refused.

Mitchell, 34, has been suspended for the rest of the season.

He developed a viral infection while the team was in San Diego for a three-game series last weekend and was given permission to stay behind in his hometown when the team headed to Pittsburgh.

He was fined when he failed to rejoin the team before the start of a game Tuesday against the Pirates, then was suspended a day later.

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With the Reds one loss from postseason elimination, Cincinnati began looking to the future by signing pitchers John Smiley, Jeff Brantley and Jeff Shaw to contract extensions for three years.

Smiley's deal is worth $11.25 million and Brantley's $8.4 million. They were eligible for free agency after the season. Shaw, a setup reliever, agreed to a $1.3-million, two-year deal.

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Judge Irving Ben Cooper, who upheld organized baseball's exemption from antitrust laws, died at his Manhattan home on Tuesday. He was 94.

Cooper presided over the 1972 lawsuit brought by St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Curt Flood challenging his trade to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Flood sought to undermine baseball's reserve clause that tied a player to one team for life unless it traded or released him. He argued that baseball engaged in interstate commerce and should lose the antitrust exemption granted it by the Supreme Court in 1922.

Cooper didn't rule on the merits of baseball's operation, but upheld the antitrust exemption on grounds that earlier Supreme Court rulings could not be challenged at a lower level. Baseball has since modified its reserve clause but retains its antitrust exemption.

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The Seattle Mariners, which finished a four-game sweep of Texas on Thursday, won a coin flip to play host of a playoff game in the event of a tie for the American League West lead at the end of the regular season.

The Mariners, who might have to play a makeup game at Cleveland on Sept. 30, would be host for the playoff on Oct. 1. The first round of the AL playoffs is scheduled to start Oct. 1, but one series would have to be delayed in the event of an AL West playoff.

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Eric Gunderson's suspension was cut from three games to two after AL president Gene Budig heard the appeal by the Boston Red Sox pitcher. Gunderson will be suspended for Boston's game against Baltimore on Wednesday and the Red Sox-Yankee game the next day. Gunderson was penalized for throwing at Texas outfielder Lou Frazier in a game June 15.

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