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No Runs, No Hits And No Commish


Up Front: Sports Biz

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.

AND THE NEW COMMISSIONER IS. . .

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

DATA: BUSINESS WEEKEDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER By Stephanie Anderson Forest


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