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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 113: EXIT VISAS IMMINENT?
Published December 2, 1994
MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza confirmed yesterday that the union has asked the Department of Labor to certify the strike, "a step that would prompt the Immigration and Naturalization Service, under Federal regulation, to deny visas to foreign players seeking to play baseball in the United States." INS officer John Brown: "We can't approve any petitions for baseball players coming to perform at locations where the strike is ongoing." In other words, the regulation "prohibits foreign nationals from being used as replacement workers during a strike." Management has not "publicly registered a challenge to the union's effort to block visas." The owners will submit a position statement to the Labor Department next week (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 12/2). Red Sox VP Dick Bresciani "conceded that plans are being made to roll back prices" if replacement players are used (Dan Shaughnessy, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/2). At Bobby Bonilla's charity event, star players reaffirmed their stance that they would not cross the picket line. They agreed "the damage caused by one superstar crossing the line would far supersede the danger of a dozen or so minor league" players coming in (Jennifer Frey, N.Y. TIMES, 12/2). LATIN PLAYERS: In New York, Murray Chass hints that the owners think some Latin MLB players "will defect from the union in wholesale numbers and report to spring training when camps open." But Rafael Palmeiro said that was "ridiculous" and "racist": "Let me tell you, if anybody crosses that line, it's not going to be a Latin player." One club exec explained the owners' thinking in including Latin players in their spring training plans, saying that most Latin players "come from poor families" and send part of their salaries home. But the exec agreed with Palmeiro that that thinking is "racist" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2). OWNERS OPTIMISTIC? Red Sox CEO John Harrington: "Hopefully, it could be done next week, but it would take a tremendous effort -- and we're going to do that over an intense period of time over five or six days. But it is so complex that my projection is that it will take us into the next month of January. But I'm very optimistic and hopeful that it will be done before the start of spring training" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/1). THE UNION PROPOSAL: Special mediator William Usery is considering attending the union's 3-day executive board meeting that starts Monday in Atlanta (TORONTO SUN, 12/2). In New York, George Vecsey praises Usery's work: "He's the best chance baseball has" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).