Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, under pressure by major league baseball to step aside after her controversial remarks, agreed Wednesday to give up day-to-day control of the team through the 1998 season.
Under terms of the deal, Schott will retain her partnership shares as controlling owner of the team.
Acting commissioner Bud Selig said she will not be involved in day-to-day decisions, will not be allowed to speak for the team and will not represent the Reds at National League and major league meetings.
She will have access to all areas of Riverfront Stadium, including her field-level seats, private box and office.
Baseball officials had threatened to suspend Schott, 67, following a series of statements she made in the past two months about Adolf Hitler, working women and Asians.
It was the second time in three years Schott agreed to give up leadership of the Reds rather than challenge a suspension in court.
In February 1993, Schott agreed to an eight-month suspension for bringing “disrepute and embarrassment” to baseball with her repeated use of racial and ethnic slurs.
“The purpose of our talks with Mrs. Schott and her representatives was not to strip Mrs. Schott of her asset or to eliminate her enjoyment of the ballclub,” N.L. president Len Coleman said. “The focus of baseball in Cincinnati can now return to the field, where it belongs.”
Reds controller John Allen will run the team for up to 60 days. During that time, Schott and Coleman will search for a mutually agreeable person to run the team through the 1998 season.
Baseball’s 10-man executive council agreed to the deal during a telephone conference call late Wednesday afternoon.
Sources had said Tuesday that Schott would be suspended for up to two years unless she agreed to step aside.
By agreeing to give up control, Schott saves a substantial amount of money. A court fight with baseball probably would have gone to an appeals court, and cases like than routinely cost more than $1 million.
Three years ago, Schott paid about $600,000 to have Washington lawyer Robert Bennett negotiate a settlement with baseball.
Schott has been under pressure by baseball to step aside. Selig and other officials were embarrassed in April when she said in an interview that Hitler was “good at the beginning” but “went too far.”
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