what does malegra dxt is canadian health care socialism propranolol order by phone buy kamagra oral jelly online uk canadien health mall.com fluoxetine for sale india evista australia pharmacy purchase viagra online discount code for brand viagra how much does baclofen cost on the street free or low cost procardia acheter fluoxetine en ligne himalaya liv.52 + canada ciproxin side effects headache buy keppra perth australia januvia coupons printable evista prescriptions cialis 20mg ireland generic substitute for seroquel brand name zestril online quinine malaria tonic cipralex side effects in men get sarafem toronto buy tulasi online amazon buy soft cialis buy prometrium for daily use korean red ginseng online shop can you buy albendazole over counter cheap is aleve better than advil for back pain cheapest acai max cleanse nolvadex tablets uk no prescription myambutol metronidazole tablets 400mg cost of pamelor what is priligy pill tadapox drugs online purchases buy avodart 40 mail order brand name viagra what is terbutaline used for during pregnancy propecia tablets to buy best price for glycomet desyrel pharmacies mircette best price aspirin 75 mg dose haldol reviews for men buy clonidine 400 canadian elimite tablet sinemet brand order comprar vasotec pela internet how to use prednisone advair diskus generic australia sinemet drug class what is doxycycline where to buy abilify online discount generic reviews forum buy viagra how to take cephalexin procardia patient reviews lady era comprare cheap genuine shuddha guggulu online quiero comprar zithromax buy kamagra oral jelly australia 100mg prescription valtrex 1gm brand name urispas online ultra low dose capoten fluoxetine no prescription compare prices bactrim for sale uk prilosec otc user reviews comprar bystolic portugal sominex usa flovent side effects where do i buy xenical buy phentermine online no rx order nolvadex rx venta de viagra en lima peru health canada amitriptyline aciclovir para que se usa order cardura online buy antivert us cheap price cialis usa rabeprazole sodium used for alavert shop net cialis soft reviews for men doxycycline canada price prometrium 20mg tab over the counter discount buy avalide phenergan over the counter ireland what is lithium used for in everyday life diclofenac gel bonus pills mzt botanical slimming tablets buy coreg for daily use cheap wellbutrin uk pletal tablets on line to buy buy alligator louisiana meat delivered order oxytrol over the counter medicine chloramphenicol legal to buy albendazole glycomet spain over counter side effects of rizatriptan maxalt albenza online legally lexapro online canada pharmacy drugs for chlamydia zithromax hoodia sublingual dosage levitra plus overnight shipping cheap purchase crestor pills casodex medicine children metoclopramide online dictionary can we trust female viagra online tetracycline 500mg for chlamydia generic claritin us where to buy biaxin ointment grifulvin v india aldactone without food purchase singulair canada buy combivent no prescription what is finast for doxycycline tablets 150 mg cheap celebrex uk cipro dosage what is abilify for children cheap metformin 100 mg best place to order kytril in us most reliable place to buy emsam online unisom with american express clomid 100mg success twins tenormin 25 mg tablets prograf lawsuit canada can order cleocin gel canada order non generic viagra professional leg cramps from lasix betnovate from europe acheter revatio buying aleve using paypal stilnox cr information prescription solutions rx fax number pilex fda approved to buy without prescription where can i buy tamoxifen online doxycycline hyclate for dogs side effects cheap ampicillin generic over counter nimotop generic form of bactrim heartburn medicine prilosec cialis sales uk levitra fml forte prices proscar where to purchase lincocin brand positioning where can i buy acai berry diet pills in canada buy kytril with e check best female viagra reviews albendazole buy cheap generic pharmacy 100mg viagra not working top 10 online revia sites liquid brand advair diskus review apcalis sx low dose birth control order evista 120 mg levaquin cost without insurance ondansetron tablets 8mg saw palmetto regrow hair reviews side effects of aleve during pregnancy prometrium generic reviews noroxin shoppers drug mart what is erythromycin stearate 500mg used for generic mycelex-g for sale on line voveran sr generic release date blue viagra pills minocycline online purchase buy singulair paypal accepted cadastro para comprar vytorin mirapex generic buy periactin hong kong online pharmacy non prescription betapace pharmacy altace buy no prescription buy zestoretic online in usa order avodart medication by mail side effects of shuddha guggulu cheap furosemide 40 mg clomid side effects in men hyzaar forte ingredients betnovate drug class elimite online pharmacy without a prescription using visa debit generic zyvox available cheap can we trust avalide online lowest priced lopid clopidogrel aspirin brands india clomid tamoxifen hcg pct i want to pay some fluoxetine ultra low dose prednisone can you crush lipitor tablets what is the dosage for benadryl buy nizoral shampoo india olanzapine 40 mg day very cheap motrin what does prednisolone do for kids proventil online usa no prescription research grade bentyl is generic cephalexin effective where to buy clomid with echeck flovent cfd model desyrel tablet 50 mg 30 tb viagra generic canada como comprar o singulair is generic chloramphenicol effective side effects of nitrofurantoin mono-mcr 100 mg risperdal perth australia buspar online in us how long to get lisinopril out of your system tez ariqlamaq ucun dietalar can you only get pravachol on prescription professional store pharmacy cheap viagra neurontin capsules tablets cheap generic glyset how long does it take for coreg to work cost of actonel 150 mg order cozaar canada side effects of norfloxacin and tinidazole zyloprim online in us cefixime discount voucher best place buy strattera pct serevent without script can you order zyrtec online drugs where lamisil is used how to take orlistat 120 duetact women buy where viagra is available in india aciphex 20 mg best price list of tesco stores selling propecia alesse discount code iv pain meds during labor where to buy cialis sublingual in canada safely when to expect ovulation after taking clomid what is the dosage for glucophage generic nexium 2013 generic benicar in usa xenical results before and after allegra medication wiki buy cymbalta online amazon what does purim mean in hebrew generic cytoxan can you order gyne-lotrimin order isoniazid from someone buying viagra uk shops where is calangute tamoxifen and raloxifene difference free or low cost lopressor eutirox 100 precio online pharmacy no prescription needed benzac cheapest zolpidem online terramycin drug class wellbutrin reviews weight gain buy dapoxetine online no prescription united states comprar cialis farmacia andorra what types of zyrtec are there long term side effects of famvir cough syrup with codeine and promethazine in canada doxycycline 40 mg capsules cheap genuine dipyridamole online buy cheap antabuse using pay pal buy epivir-hbv inhaler canada vardenafil lowest price can i get pregnant on zithromax lamictal tablets purchase on line amaryl order by phone buy calcium carbonate online amazon forum zaditor online buy drops buy paxil mg online what is etodolac used for to treat cymbalta to buy in australia abilify prices us buy albuterol inhaler online no prescription can you buy trandate in ireland buy shuddha guggulu online pharmacy safe dose of phenergan for children accutane for mild acne side effects cipro vs bactrim cost buy brand tricor renvela renagel same cheap trimox india viagra plus western australia buy seroflo australia gyne-lotrimin canada head office centro medico pueyrredon swiss medical drugstore com buy advair diskus online pravastatin sodium tablets usp 40 mg where can i buy ceftin in canada buy coreg boots remeron results forum albendazole weight gain can order diltiazem canada zentel medicine dosage augmentin bid 1000 mg fiyat? discount prices buy lipitor types of painkiller pills floxin canada no prescription decadron for discount sertralina efectos secundarios levitra no prescription needed fda buy actos without rx generic cialis (tadalafil) discount kytril buy bulk aspirin endep tablets 50 mg best place to buy cialis forum aricept without insurance tegretol reviews seizures liv tanning lotion cheap where to pulmicort proscar canadian online bupropion and otc sleeping pills why can t you buy claritin d over the counter bupropion brands in india brand kamagra oral jelly for sale side effects of diovan hct 160 25 sinemet for sale ordering flagyl mexico elocon order in the us healthy mango and banana smoothie recipe triamterene dose forms buy tricorn hat london venta de viagra online espan~a buy amoxicillin boots prometrium on line accutane no prescription online what do ceftin tablets look like is it safe to order colospa generic name lopid taking clomid cycle days 1-5 online canada buy cheap advair diskus wellbutrin sr generic wikipedia drugs synthroid generic reviews resources for amantadine benicar side effects in women purchase diflucan 50 mg colchicine birth control online india coreg drug classification cheap geriforte syrup buy tetracycline ointment pharmacy lamictal pharmacy assistance fucidin shipping overseas levitra super active shoppers drug mart p57 hoodia weight loss pills buy tenormin overseas norvasc usage cheap aciclovir 100 mg claritin dose for adults pills online without prescription propecia generico order kamagra by phone dostinex supplier in uk why were benadryl strips discontinued buy exelon patches online procardia online in us order colchicine online drugstore there generic version protonix rogaine 2 brands india side effects of generic coumadin splitting prilosec tablets what is hoodia made of low cost lithium ion battery canadian viagra pharmacy online my alli diet coupon combivent birth control online us cardizem without a prescription buy evecare online overnight buy generic sinemet alavert shoppers drug mart seroquel maximum daily dosage best online pharmacy generic precose how old do you need to be to buy claritin d bupropion billig kaufen indian pharmacy colchicine is it safe to order generic drugs online can you buy acai sale geriforte syrup can you get etodolac drug market order aspirin voltaren gel over the counter usa perceuse lithium pas cher cheap cialis generic tadalafil buy trazodone online at canada pharmacy isoniazid dose in renal failure where can i get female viagra pills zanaflex canada drugs overnight cheap accutane prescription is generic aristocort available in usa viagra clinical studies robaxin oral tablet 500 mg plendil coupon code online pharmacy no prescription needed toradol purchase robaxin in usa betnovate cream frenulum where to buy accutane australia prescription where is allie brosh 2011 augmentin pharmacy canada aleve delivery purchase cefadroxil cheap what does flomax pill look like pill identifier pictures watson 540 lasuna in the uk fast requip delivery capoten without prescription miami rhinocort doctors online acheter pillule alli en ligne cheapest place to buy cardura buy vigara sydney genuine alligator shoes for men online lopressor india can you buy zebeta discount can you get c diff from augmentin warfarin dosing high inr fluoxetine dose bnf buy prazosin online no prescription us anafranil 25 mg ocd cytotec misoprostol forum celexa tablets on line to buy best price zofran rosuvastatin 10 mg prices how to use eloconŽ lotion 0.1 bystolic drugs online purchases expel water pills gnc get avodart las vegas buying canadian drugs online illegal buy prograf capsules alli diet pills discount voucher codes diclofenac sodium 50 mg for headaches how much is atorlip-10 tablets echeck clomid online can buy fertomid online buy albenza mg best herbal viagra bystolic dosage 10 mg tofranil not generic buy dostinex cabergoline online order rosuvastatin online with visa best price for zenegra buy crestor online uk how to get compazine buy orlistat uk zyrtec 10mg /ml sol buv diet pills phentermine reviews buy generic ampicillin how to take hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg xenical 120mg cap elavil generico italiano 10 mg accutane results how much does synthroid cost where to buy aleve ointment acquisto cialis originale buying yagara for dogs can you buy flovent buy nolvadex online buy exelon australia is cymbalta legal in uk claritin d usage generic cialis soft no prescription lasix non perscription countries get phexin toronto purchase valtrex in usa buy chloramphenicol from mexico online cost of testosterone therapy for men endep tablets side effects dapoxetine pharmacy order can you buy aceon online perscription canadian arimidex tablet cordarone drug store online propranolol price canada digoxin rxmed do i need a prescription for speman enalapril maleate 5mg buy propecia 5mg online brand amoxil with no rx abilify over the counter writing drugs best place to buy sominex ventolin price canada my purinethol coupons tenormin tablets side effects femara in usa can you still get a dvt while on coumadin canadian alliance physiotherapy regulators toronto ontario suhagra 100 ask generic lipitor recall 2012 low price extendaquin uk can you only get requip on prescription best price for real reglan elavil dosage for ibs combivent refill pack what drug category is valtrex order actoplus met online uk duloxetine overdose symptoms cipla india contact number retino-a cream 0,05 medication kamagra chewable over counter uk minocin dose for acne anacin order by phone viagra for sale cheap canadian pharmacy keftab no rx lowest price bentyl canada drugs zofran with prescription side effects of abana wellbutrin xl cost walgreens betapace shelf life vendita viagra generico italia tienchi ginseng tablets side effects artane child abuse buying aspirin in uk tofranil drug schedule pfizer viagra price compare side effects of voltaren 50 star trek borg how to use tricorder buy ventolin salbutamol buyers of caverta canada erythromycin eye ointment cost levitra orodispersible in india midamor buy online ireland proscar from china side effects of half-inderal la 80 mg how many nexium to get high ginette-35 online cheap is furosemide legal in uk kamagra 100mg cheap toradol overseas flexeril muscle relaxant will you buy diflucan over the counter zyvox iv medication abc online pharmacy terbutaline sulfate dosage low cost viagra from canada oregon state fair purchase tofranil online online prescriptions australia where to ampicillin most common illegal drugs in usa frumil for discount yasmin birth control india buy dramamine australia what is retin-a 0.05 levaquin on line in the usa exelon pills vs patch buy celebrex without rx canadian pharmacy maxaman get viagra from canada buy cheap prescription drugs canada generic actoplus met dosage orlistat fda alert where to buy brand viagra online usa ordering estrace reviews on lexapro for depression zestril 20 mg prezzo lithium dose bipolar ii cipla inhalers asthma what is lamictal xr prednisone dosepak dosage prescription clomid side effects how to order antabuse can you without script buy ventolin online adalat sony tv 10 march 2013 comprar viagra mas barato is it safe to take a double dose of cialis flan cafe rico rico quibron-t delivery london is there a generic for diovan with hct ordering lamictal buy alli uk purchase generic decadron didronel pmo tablets nike 95 air max release dates acai lawsuit canada when is diovan generic coming out best depression medication prednisone 5mg information buy trileptal visa calan reviews drinking on antibiotics amoxicillin avodart cost without insurance non prescription prevacid buy altace new zealand online where to buy tetracycline online per pill search history youtube rocaltrol online us pharmacy online maxalt buying toradol for dogs tenormin to buy in australia buy minipress no prescription cheap prevacid pills were to buy viagra inhouse drugstore coupon cefadroxil online pharmacy uk canadian pharmacy zyloprim buy crestor online without prescription how to get sinequan on line non prescription nitroglycerin pharmacy canadian drugstore chain ophthacare india valtrex side effects yeast infection glycomet cost without insurance minipress mail order clomiphene citrate 50 mg ml 60ml glyset perth australia erythromycin drug oversea order lincocin from canada without prescription haridra roche precio argentina micardis online meds buy topamax paypal generic wellbutrin xl 300 how to use medrol can order brand advair diskus canada aldactone combined lasix cheapest ashwagandha canadian medications without prescriptions buy metformin for weight loss what is albenza for clonidine 0.1 mg dosage bactrim roche mexico cipro pills pictures how to import rumalaya forte generic hyzaar prices brand name metoclopramide online colchicine new zealand online accutane no prescription tamoxifen side effects discharge online januvia purchase how much is brand amoxil tablets eurax hydrocortisone cream used prednisolone steroids online prescription deltasone us pharmacy online floxin ayurslim online cvs pharmacy 96th street and amsterdam propranolol medicine used viagra super active uk online where to buy medications online nizoral shampoo hair loss reviews augmentin duo for sale nimotop refills what s the difference between propecia 1mg and 5mg pills what is piroxicam 10 mg glucotrol xl 10 mg cipro to buy cost of flovent 110 buy cialis sublingual capsules can you get seroquel over the counter what is pulmicort used to treat can you buy strattera in south africa costco pharmacy vasodilan price buy levitra professional without a script unisom pharmacy prices list tretinoin cream vs differin gel septilin where to get lipitor drug in usa pharmacy order protonix online in usa non prescription torsemide buy buspar in ireland allegra dose for kids cialis pills buy allopurinol prescription dosage safe buy entocort online buying xeloda for dogs crestor prices costco kamagra prices uk
Home Biz of Baseball - Interviews Interview - Bowie Kuhn - Former Commissioner

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 932 guests online

Atom RSS

Interview - Bowie Kuhn - Former Commissioner PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
PoorBest 
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 16 February 2005 12:00

Bowie Kuhn

Editor's Note: Bowie Kuhn passed away on March 15, 2007 at the age of 80 due to complications from pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, Luisa; his son, Stephen, of Chappaqua, N.Y.; his daughter, Alix Bower of Ridgefield, Conn.; two stepsons, Paul Degener, of Redding, Conn., and George Degener of Somers, N.Y.; a sister, Alice McKinley of St. Augustine, Fla.; and 10 grandchildren.

Former commissioner Bowie Kuhn's 15-year tenure was arguably the most tumultuous that any commissioner faced. This interview covers his selection as commissioner, the Braves litigation, the breaking of the Reserve Clause with the Seitz ruling, DC’s loss of the Senators and the Pilots move from Seattle to Milwaukee. He shares thoughts on Marvin Miller, Charlie Finley’s aborted trades, the little known negotiations that took place in 1975 to bring an exhibition game to Cuba, the political dynamic that comes with the position of commissioner, and much more.

On February 5, 1969, Bowie Kent Kuhn took over as commissioner of Major League Baseball at a time of great change in baseball—reflecting in many respects national movements. Vietnam, Civil Rights and changed social values seemed to go along with the changes that baseball and Kuhn would see.

During his tumultuous 15-year tenure, Kuhn saw the rise of the Players Union, the Curt Flood case, the breaking of the Reserve Clause, a shift in the types of owners that ran the game, the 2-year suspension of George Steinbrenner, feuds with the likes of Charlie Finley and work stoppages. Yet attendance grew and the game expanded.

Kuhn was born October 28, 1926, in Tacoma Park, Maryland just a few miles away from Washington, DC, where he was a scoreboard boy for the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium.

He attended high school at Theodore Roosevelt High School and then attended Franklin and Marshall College in the Naval V-12 Officer Training Program before attending Princeton University in 1945. He graduated with honors in 1945 with a B.A. in Economics. He then received his law degree in 1950 from the University of Virginia.

From there, Kuhn started the road that would lead him to baseball’s highest position as a member of the New York law firm Wilkie, Farr and Gallagher. Kuhn gained considerable visibility with the owners while representing the National League in defense of the move of the Milwaukee Braves to Atlanta. Opposing litigation ginned up by Bud Selig, Kuhn successfully argued the case all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

When Spike Eckert left the commissioner’s position under pressure, the owners deadlocked over the selecting either Mike Burke, the president of the New York Yankees, or Chub Feeney, the president of the National League, as the new commissioner.

When the impasse could not be broken, the owners compromised on Kuhn.

Over the next 15 years, the game became an ongoing push and pull between management and the Players Association, headed by Executive Director Marvin Miller. The tension created by several work stoppages lingers to this day.

Kuhn and Miller will always be linked.

Kuhn may have had more to deal with than any commissioner before or since after.

Despite recent heart surgery, the 78 year-old remains active in political and philanthropic endeavors.

In the following interview Kuhn reflects on his selection as commissioner, the Braves litigation, the breaking of the Reserve Clause with the Seitz ruling, DC’s loss of the Senators and the Pilots move from Seattle to Milwaukee. He shares thoughts on Marvin Miller , Charlie Finley’s aborted trades, the little known negotiations that took place in 1975 to bring an exhibition game to Cuba, the political dynamic that comes with the position of commissioner, and much more. – Maury Brown


BizBall: First of all, how's your health these days?

Kuhn: Well, I'm happy to know that you have that concern. I'm feeling really very well.

It's now almost… well it's creeping up on four months since I've had the operation. By that time you're probably either expired or doing well and I'm happy to say I'm doing well with that part of the equation. It takes awhile. I'm 78 years old and I was under anesthesia for about 8 hours, all told. That's major stuff and you don't spring out of it the way you might spring out of a broken bone. So it's been a slow process and it's taken some patience. That’s why patients are called patients I think--patience is required.

So I'm doing fine. I'm doing a heavy duty therapy program of exercise, swimming, walking, biking and other equipment such as elliptical cross trainers. So, I'm doing all that and surviving it seems like and I'm getting my fitness back. So tell them I am doing very well and, more importantly, my cardiologist thinks I'm doing very well.

BizBall: Well that's certainly good to hear. One of the cases that seemed to bring you some high visibility within the owners’ ranks before you were commissioner was the case involving the Braves move to Atlanta. At the time, did you have a feeling about how that case impacted you within the internal politics of baseball?

Click to read the Marvin Miller interview Kuhn: Sure.

It was at or about that time that Marvin Miller came along and the players got an effective Players Association and I was the interface between Major League Baseball and that initially. So I had the Braves litigation plus the representation really of essentially all the major league clubs with the union going. And it did occur to me.... We won the Braves case and I argued it in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin where we won it—and that was considered unlikely to say the least. I think they voted out of office all four judges who were the majority in that case. As each came up for reelection, each was voted out of office. So it was an extraordinarily brave decision on the part of those judges, I thought.

BizBall: You became commissioner, really at a time of crisis. The players had organized into a cohesive union with Marvin Miller and were looking to continue to hold out over contracts on the players’ pension program. Spike Eckert had resigned under pressure and the commissioner’s position was basically at a stalemate.

In your autobiography you mentioned that you weren't surprised that Christmas of '68 when Mike Burke called and asked you if you were interested in the position. By the time the owners had reconvened in Florida in February of '69, you had had some time to absorb the offer. When the offer was made to be pro tempore for a year, knowing that there had been an internal stalemate over the position, did you worry that there might have been a compromise decision or did you see an opportunity to restructure the league?

Kuhn: You know ... I didn't worry. I would have sooner have been hired without the pro tempore, but ... and I think there was some compromise. I think those who favored my election solved the problem of whoever might be raising any questions by saying: “Okay let's do it for a year and see how he does.” That never bothered me for a second. I may be a bit too much self-confident but I thought that it would occur as it did. Indeed I think that whatever the period of time was, it's in the book—six months or so, they called a meeting and elected me to a full term. They didn't wait out that year.


BizBall: One of the first issues that you had to deal with involved the trade of Rusty Staub to the Expos in exchange for Donn Clendenon of the Astros. The problem was Clendenon decided to retire after the trade, which would have voided the trade via rule 12F. Yet, much to the dismay of Roy Hofheinz, you allowed the trade to be restructured, citing the best interests of the game. Was this done to help the new expansion Expos and did you worry that it might create both precedent and ill will amongst some of the owners?

Kuhn: Well, anytime you make an unusual decision you are going to worry somebody in the ownership world and you are going to worry somebody.... The union was increasingly active Rusty Staubin regards to any decision involving players. Now, this one they didn't go after, but other times they did. So you had that front to worry about, you had the owners to worry about, but you know, I was ... my view was very uncomplex.

I looked at something and said: “Is this going to be ... if I do something here, will it be a good thing to do in terms of the overall situation of the game?” And it didn't particularly bother me that it would stir anybody up. I really felt that you did what you had to do. I didn't need the job. I could have gone back to practicing law at anytime and made a lot more money than I was making as baseball commissioner and would probably still be today. So, I didn't worry about that. I had a lot of self-confidence. I loved the game. I understood the game. I understood the people in the game and all of that gave me a certain self-confidence about doing things that might prove unpopular initially. But I always felt that if I was right about the benefit to the game then it would take care of itself.

BizBall: Given the fact that there had been numerous cases where the reserve clause was tested—there was Gardella, there was Toolson, and then there obviously was Curt Flood—why do you think the owners expressed considerable surprise at the Seitz's ruling on free agency?

Kuhn: Well, it was just bad … just bad law.

There was no way he could find free agency within the reserve system. It didn't exist legally.

He simply said: “I can find free agency in there” and that plays out as an option. There was nothing of that kind in the free agency system. Pardon me, the reserve system had been examined by courts and others for years and the criticism of baseball was that it locked the player in too thoroughly. There was no opening such as Seitz purported to find and it just was—legally, it was simply a wrong decision. There was no way you could support it legally.

 So I think that was a surprise to many.

I think they were coming around to understanding.

I think Seitz understood that sooner or later baseball was going to have to give some ground on the reserve system. I tried my best to preserve the reserve system with such adjustments as I felt would protect the interest of the players.

Salary arbitration is probably in place—was put in place then and probably is in place now—because I supported it. And I thought it was important if you had a reserve system to have some way of reviewing what the player's salary was so that he would get a fair shot at the right salary— whatever the market might indicate was fair salary to be.

So I very much—and talk about unpopular moves on the part of the commish—that was an unpopular move with a lot of the old-time general managers who were most of the general managers then. So I think Seitz felt that the ownership had not moved sufficiently on free agency and therefore he would make up some law and rule against them. I think it was as simple as that.

BizBall: Regarding the work stoppages during your tenure, I interviewed Marvin Miller and I'll pose the same question to you.

Is the public’s concern something that comes to the negotiating table during collective bargaining or is the overriding concern to get as much for their respective constituency as possible? When is enough, enough?

Kuhn: Well, you asked that question of Marvin Miller properly.

I think quite clearly—and I don't think Marvin makes any bones about it—it's not his job to protect the long term interest for the game of professional baseball. It's his job to protect the interests of—financial interests of—the players and the working conditions of the players.

That's his mission. That's was his mission. Been the mission, pretty much, of the union since it was founded by Miller or since Miller came into the picture.

My greatest criticism of the union is exactly on that point because I felt that as commissioner I had to override any kind of special consideration and look to the total welfare of the game and I didn't feel the Players Association did that. They obviously advanced the financial benefit enormously, but “when is enough, enough?” is the right question.

BizBall: You also arrived at a time when the old guard which seemed to hold the status of the game in very high regard gave way to those who viewed the game of baseball simply as business. Do you believe your position as commissioner was to ensure the integrity of the game of baseball and did the new guard pose a danger to the integrity of the game?

Kuhn:
Well, certainly one of the primary things the commissioner is expected to do is to protect integrity. I think anytime you get away from the traditional values of the game you threaten the game. You're going to threaten its integrity in some way. I think that's probably right, so I was concerned that the people who were coming in should be people that had a real interest in the game.

I'd say even though we began to get more business-like, the way our franchises were run, there were very few new owners who didn't have a great affection for the game itself. Not to the same extent that say the Carpenters of Philadelphia or Galbreaths of Pittsburgh or Fetzer of Detroit, but to a considerable degree I think the new owners cared— cared about the game. Hofheinz would be an example. He had a great care, concern for the game but he was a new kind of owner.

BizBall: Do you think it's fair to say that the owners were in a reactionary state as opposed to being proactive during the early labor negotiations of your tenure?

Kuhn: Yes, I would say so.

They liked the system the way it was. They liked the reserve system, as it was. They weren't very anxious to change anything.

Baseball was not a very big money-making sport, you understand. They thought that that was a factor that should be taken into consideration in having the restrictive player development system that existed. If they were making untold millions of dollars out of the system and players weren't getting a fair benefit, that would be a different story. But that was … they were not. We had the studies done at the time. A professor at Princeton University wrote a study that was on the whole state of the game and concluded that it was one strange monopoly, if it was a monopoly at all. And that the profit levels were very marginal, if at all. So I think they felt—the ownership felt—that [they were] preserving the institution and reacted against anything that would undermine the institution and baseball more than any other sport has striven to protect the tradition and institutional nature of the game.

BizBall: In 1975 there was negotiations occurring between the US and Cuba to try and hold an exhibition game in Cuba. There's documentation that shows that communications between Henry Kissinger, Castro's sports ministry, and it's been reported yourself on the matter. What were some of the details regarding these negotiations?

Kuhn: Do you mean government documentation?

BizBall: Yes

Kuhn: Oh that was definitely so.

Castro and NixonThere's no question that those negotiations were underway; there was nothing secret or private about that. They were, I think, publicly known and I was involved in those negotiations. It didn't work out, but I was definitely involved in negotiations. I wanted it to work out.

BizBall: Was it an attempt to assist the Nixon administration in warming relations with Cuba?

Kuhn: Well, it certainly would be accurate to say that the Nixon administration considered it. The Secretary of State was not standing in our way, and we wouldn't have been doing it if the administration had been opposed. So they weren't standing in our way and they were perfectly happy to see us go in.

BizBall: What in your opinion caused the strike in '81 and how much long-lasting damage did it cause in terms of the fans and relationship with the players' union?

Kuhn: Well, you know, that’s a more complex situation than we can probably deal with in this talk.

The fundamental difference was, and cause of the strike, was over the clubs getting compensation for lost free agents. That was the driving issue.

The clubs wanted to have a system whereby players that were lost would be evaluated and at a certain level an evaluation and that compensation would vary … that they would get.

The union agreed to a one year delay, at the end of which time the management would be permitted to impose their own program for compensation and the union would reserve the right to strike if they didn't like it. And what happened was that there was the year delay. Management imposed their own arrangement, as permitted, and the union, as permitted, struck. I do believe that it had a very bad effect on the relationship between management and the Players Association because the management, including me, was fully convinced that the union meant to make a deal—more or less—around the proposal that management was permitted to implement. When they didn't, I thought it was bad faith and I think most people on the management side felt it was bad faith and that's why there was such an impasse on it and a strike occurred. Management would not give away its position and would not change its position and the strike occurred.

BizBall: It's well documented that you and Charlie Finley were at odds a great deal of the time during your respective tenures. Do you think that Connie Mack selling off two different championship teams decades earlier provided any precedent for what Finley was trying to do with the proposed liquidation of the A's players in Vida Blue, Joe Rudi, and Rollie Fingers. If not, what was the major difference between the two?

Kuhn: Well, maybe just time.

I think Finley was well aware of what Mack had done, twice as you say; though one of them was pretty old, one of them goes way back to the teens and the second one's in the thirties. But, whatever the needs of the game may have been in 1931, Mack won in 29, 30, and 31 and then sold off his players—the Red Sox being a major beneficiary of that. That’s how Charlie FinleyJimmie Foxx and Grove got to Boston.

However, those occurred in one situation. There was a depression. Baseball was in a rather different situation than I found it in by the time Charlie tried to sell off his players. We were now trying—and everybody's knows we're trying—to build a more competitive game—a more up to date game—and we would pay attention. The commissioner is going to pay attention to how well teams are competing and he's going to try to level competition as much as possible.

So we have a more competitive situation. We didn't like the situation dominated by the New York Yankees as it had been for many years and to some extent the Cardinals excellent teams under Branch Rickey. We wanted to spread the talent out and have more teams in competition. Well, nobody was worrying about that in 1931 when Mack did what he did and Landis did nothing.

BizBall: In your autobiography, you devote an entire chapter on trying to keep the Washington Senators in DC. You were a scoreboard boy at Griffith Stadium.
You grew up watching the Senators and you obviously had a great affection for them.

You said in your bio regarding the move of the Senators in '71, "Some people inside and outside of baseball felt Kuhn's Autobiography - Hardball. Click to purchasemy views were biased by my personal history as a Washingtonian. I can honestly say my history was not a factor, there were persuasive reasons for staying in Washington that had nothing to do with sentiment." Yet, when the second vote was taken on Short's move to Arlington and the move was approved 10-2, you said "I found it hard to speak, this was an emotional situation for me and my usually sure voice had no resolve. Never good at concealing disappointment or putting on a bright face in defeat, I was bitterly and visibly upset," and that tears were glistening in your eyes.

Given your bias, what did you do that you may not have done for another franchise in attempting to keep the Senators in Washington DC?

Kuhn: The answer's “nothing.”

Seattle was faced with the same situation. I went out to Seattle and went door to door with my hat in my hand trying to get somebody to save the Seattle Pilots and keep them in  Seattle. That's exactly what I did with Washington. I stopped the idea of the American League moving it for a whole .... As I tell in that chapter, I spent a good part of the summer trying to find somebody to buy it—keep it in Washington—and I failed.

I hated the movement of franchises; still do. I think any sport should. You sort of betray your fan base when you do that and the problem is not usually one of the fans letting you down, it's one of management not being good enough to figure out how to succeed in the marketplace. There is not a bad market for baseball in the whole country.

BizBall: When Ray Kroc moved in at the 11th hour and kept the Padres in San Diego instead of heading to DC to reclaim the market, what other steps did you take to try and get a team for Washington?

Kuhn: Well by the time Ray Kroc stepped in, the efforts we had made to find a buyer for Washington—should have been Danzansky—had fallen through. I mean Danzansky still wanted it and said he could find the money. But he couldn't, he didn't have the bank commitment.

It was just sort of heart breaking from Washington's point of view, but the league had no alternative and I had no alternative but to let the move of the Senators go through.

BizBall: Do you plan on attending the Washington National's home opener this year?

Kuhn: April 14, I'll be there.

BizBall: You witnessed unbelievable growth and expansion during your tenure in which the league grew from 20 to 26 teams. What are your thoughts regarding expansion in '93 and '98 and what are your thoughts about contraction, which was considered by the league in 2001?

Kuhn: Well, I'm not sure how seriously they considered contraction. They talked about it.

BizBall: Do you think it was a bargaining ploy?

Kuhn:
Well, I think it was certainly part of the bargaining process. It's not inconceivable that, if things had gone a certain way, they might have been forced to try contraction, but I don't think there was. I don't think the commissioner or anybody else really wanted to implement that idea. But it was … it was a possibility.

BizBall: What are your thoughts on relocation—especially the relocation of the Montreal Expos to DC given your history with Washington? What standards should MLB apply to 1) allowing relocation and 2) selecting a location in which to relocate?

Kuhn: Well I think relocation should be—if approached—it should be used sparingly.

When you read my language about [Washington, DC], there are other reasons and my sentimental ones for keeping baseball in Washington, those other reasons are still there.  It's the seat of government and, if anything, it's the seat of government more than ever. The power of the country is—much of it is—right there—and the Congress and the White House and the Executive Branch and so forth. And all of them play a role in how sports are operated these days and it's therefore, in my judgment, foolish not to have a franchise in the capital city—particularly when you take into account the enormous growth of the market place. Baltimore-Washington is now an enormous complex and it's spreading out to the north and to the south toward Richmond and surely can support both the Baltimore club and the Washington club. So I think it was the right move—if you had to move the Montreal club. My preference would have been to not move the Montreal club. But I saw no way that it could be ... that it looked from my seat, outside, I saw no way that could be done.

BizBall: MLB has been in negotiations with Baltimore owner Peter Angelos over an indemnification package due to the Expos moving in to what he feels is the Orioles' market. Given the fact that the DC site locations do not sit within any of Baltimore's territories, doesn't MLB run the risk of setting precedent for the future relocation or expansion by using this indemnification package?

Kuhn: You know I have no idea what those talks are. All I know is what I read in the newspaper. I've never talked to Bud Selig about it or anybody else in baseball. I have no idea what's going on there. So I'm sort of loath to comment on that.

BizBall: Back to relocation, the A's have talked about or there has been some talk about them moving to San Jose, which the Giants are now opposing. Do you feel that allowing Finley to move into Oakland was a mistake and, if options run out in Oakland, do you think that that would be a reasonable relocation candidate?

Kuhn: You know I don't have a strong opinion on it.

The only thing I could tell you is that I feel about the main markets, as I feel about Washington and Baltimore, there is plenty of room for two well-operated clubs. I think the  ownership of Oakland, after Finley demonstrated that Oakland was viable, could be viable, did a good job with it, greatly improved .... I mean Finley -- I don't know if he ever drew a million people in a season with three championship clubs.

So Finley, while he was an incredibly shrewd general manager you might say, he was no good at all at trying to market a franchise. So, my strong preference would be to stay in Oakland—which is still my idea that we shouldn't be moving franchises. You can't say never—because I do believe that Montreal had to be moved—but I think that it should be done .... But nothing's been moved since Washington moved to Texas.

BizBall: In your book that you said at the time that you were disappointed at the time when the Pilots moved from Seattle because you felt the Pacific Northwest was a good baseball market.

Kuhn: Right.

BizBall: And the Seattle Mariners have proven to be a successful franchise recently and there has been talk about relocation or expansion into Portland. Looking back do you feel some sense of vindication regarding the Pacific Northwest market?

Kuhn: Absolutely.

BizBall: How much of the commissioner's position revolves around the political and personality dynamic of the ownership brethren?

Kuhn: Oh, I think a fair amount. Any commissioner's job in any sport's got it's political side. It's impossible to deal only with the best hitters of the game and stop there because in order to make things happen there is a political aspect in that. You need to be recognized; you need support. A commissioner that doesn't create support for things he wants to do won't be commissioner very long and he's not going to get much done. So you've got to recognize there are political considerations and, within reason, try to work with those political considerations to achieve your goals.

BizBall: There's been talk about Marvin Miller possibly being in the Hall of Fame. Do you think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?

Kuhn: I'm on the Board of the Hall of Fame so I am very reluctant to comment on anybody getting into the Hall of Fame.

BizBall: What was your greatest achievement during your tenure?

Kuhn: Well, I think the ..., you mentioned it awhile ago, that at the time I came in baseball was in a distressed situation and it was losing attendance, losing popularity. The other three major sports were all on the ascendance, and by the time I left nobody was worrying about baseball. We were doing just great and I think we were arguably the most popular sport around.

BizBall: What, if any, regrets do you have regarding your tenure?

Kuhn: Oh, I might have done a few things differently than I did. On Jim Bouton’s book, Ball Four, I expressed some reservations about his story in the clubhouse matters—which in  baseball were considered sacrosanct—and I did nothing but sell the book. I wouldn't do that again.

Anything else, well yes, I regret that in addition to salary arbitration, I think I would like to have been more effective in persuading the ownership that the reserve system had to be further loosened up beyond salary arbitration. Salary arbitration was a great step, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of supporting it. I'm not proud about it being there anymore because it's not necessary anymore but it's there. But it was awfully hard in persuading the management in those days that the reserve system had to be changed. There were a few owners that understood that—Wrigley in Chicago being the prime example—but most, they didn't recognize that and I was not able to persuade them.

I would certainly put that in there.

BizBall: And finally, what has baseball meant to you in terms of your life. You know, I'm in my forties and I'm not nearly as involved in it as you are and, you know, at a certain point in life, it's the game and then it moves on to something else, but then you know there's family. What has baseball meant to you outside of you working directly in it?

Kuhn: Well it's meant a lot. In this sense, I mean ... how old are you? Forty-what?

BizBall: I'm coming up on forty-four.

Kuhn: Okay, I was younger, two years younger than you when I became commissioner of Baseball. I was the youngest and remain the youngest person ever to serve as commissioner of Baseball. So I was there for sixteen years. By the time I'm gone I was fifty-eight years old and I'm still feeling pretty darn vigorous and ready to do some other things.

What baseball did for me was it gave me the ability to communicate publicly ... with confidence. Most Wall Street lawyers, in my opinion, are not particularly good at that. I developed that. So that was an asset.

It also gave me a very great national platform so that I was pretty much a household word around the country. People knew who I was and I emphasize the past tense because that's not necessarily true today, but people knew then. Therefore I had a lot of access nationally that I wouldn't otherwise have had for those things I care about. And I, ever since 1958, to an increasing degree, have worked in the public sector to support the kind of causes I believe in—like education. I've been on the board of a number of universities and seem to be going on a new one every so often. I love education; I love working with that. I'm a very Bowie Kuhnseriously religious person. I like promoting religious values. I go around the country and I speak about the things I believe in. I've worked in the Republican campaign for some cycles passed including the just finished one—worked very hard for Mel Martinez in the Senate race here in Florida. In fact, I put off my operation by about three or four days while I went down to Miami to give a fundraising speech for Martinez and then I said: “Okay, you can carve me open.”

So, it's given me tremendous access and still does. While the name Bowie Kuhn might not resonate like it once did, it resonates in the corridors of power—a lot.

 Bowie Kuhn - October 28, 1926 – March 15, 2007

The following interview was originally published on the SABR Business of Baseball website, and can be read here: SABR Business of Baseball Interviews Page

Interview conducted by Maury Brown on 2/16/05.
Transcribed by Brian Mac Millian .
Edited by John Ruoff

 
 
Banner

Poll

Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?