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REPLACEMENT UMPS READY TO DUST OFF THE PLATE OPENING DAY?
Published April 5, 1995
MLB umpires were "rebuffed" by owners in their contract demands leaving the real possibility that ownership's lockout will continue through exhibition games. MLBUA Exec Dir Richie Phillips: "I thought that now that they've resolved their differences with the players, baseball would want to put its best face on and try to reach an agreement, but I guess not" (AP/Baltimore SUN, 4/5). The umpires want a 53% increase over their present wages of $60,000-175,000, double post-season wages and $500,000 in retirement benefits. NL President Len Coleman: "I don't understand where Richie thinks the money is coming from. Their request in light of everything this year is unbelievable." AL Pres. Gene Budig: "[The union] refuses to acknowledge the financial state of baseball" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/5). RECENT HISTORY: ESPN's Dave Campbell: "I talked to a couple of National League umpires tonight and they told me there have been 24 meetings since October, and only one time did the league presidents, Leonard Coleman or Gene Budig, show up, and that was three days before Christmas when they told them they weren't going to get paid anymore." The umpires say since Bart Giamatti died and Fay Vincent left baseball, "they have had no one to talk to." The also say that they would go to spring training without a contract if they were paid per-game ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/4). THE OTHER UNION'S POSITION: MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said the players' union opposes the use of replacement umpires, but he "stopped short of saying the union will consider refusing to play if replacement umpires are used" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/5). In Toronto, Bill Lankhof notes Ontario's labor laws could forbid use of replacement umpires, although the case is not as clear-cut as the ban on Blue Jays replacements (TORONTO SUN, 4/5).