Baseball’s labor negotiations reached another crisis point as representatives of the team owners said talks with the striking major league players were on the verge of breaking down yet again.
The owners said they were giving the Major League Baseball Players Association one last chance to demonstrate flexibility on the core economic issues of the bitter dispute before going home. Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, acting commissioner, met one-on-one with union chief Donald Fehr, and early in the evening the owners’ negotiators went to the players’ hotel with apparent plans for a showdown meeting.
After that large-scale meeting, Selig announced talks will continue today in small groups. But Selig and most of the other ownership leaders are going home, and there might not be much for the two sides to discuss.
On the playing field, only 294 fans showed up to watch the Kansas City Royals open their exhibition season and Michael Jordan walked out of camp rather than play in spring training games.
Jordan, like many minor leaguers, was caught in the squeeze by the union and management. He elected to leave the Chicago White Sox camp in Sarasota, Fla., leaving his status for the rest of the spring uncertain.
Earlier, the Reds and Indians announced the first trades of replacement players. Cleveland, which had stockpiled players and had a surplus, wound up sending five guys, including former major leaguer Barbaro Garbey, to Cincinnati for future considerations.
“Cleveland got the better of the deals,” cracked Reds manager Davey Johnson. “They didn’t get anybody.”