BB Offers To Rehire 10 Umpires

Friday, July 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly half of the 22 umpires let go last September may be coming back.

Baseball has offered to rehire 10 umpires, but only as part of a new labor contract and only if the umps' old union agrees to settle its grievance.

The offer has tentatively been agreed to by the new union, the World Umpires Association, two lawyers familiar with the talks said Thursday on the condition they not be identified.

But the old union, Richie Phillips' Major League Umpires Association, said it hasn't been contacted by baseball or the new union. MLUA lawyer Pat Campbell said the offer falls far short of what his side wants.

``There may be some discussions between the WUA and baseball,'' Campbell said, ``but we don't bless them, we don't condone them, we're not parties to them. We've been asked to participate and we haven't gone. No offer has been made to us. If that's the offer, they can save it because that offer does not reflect the realities of the case.''

The MLUA filed a grievance to regain the jobs of the 22. The case, being heard by arbitrator Alan Symonette, was to have resumed this week but was postponed until Aug. 28 or 29 because former AL official Derek Irwin was unavailable to testify.

Negotiators for the new union and baseball met for three days this week and are scheduled to resume talks next week.

The 10 umpires who would be rehired under the offer, according to the lawyers, would be Gary Darling, Bob Davidson, Bruce Dreckman, Jim Evans, Tom Hallion, Ed Hickox, Bill Hohn, Sam Holbrook, Paul Nauert and Larry Vanover.

Six of the 22 umpires, all over 55, would retire under the plan: Dale Ford, Rich Garcia, Ken Kaiser, Larry McCoy, Frank Pulli, Terry Tata.

The remaining six would be given buyouts, either in a lump sum, or an annuity: Drew Coble, Eric Gregg, Mark Johnson, Greg Kosc, Larry Poncino and Joe West.

Sandy Alderson, the executive vice president who is heading negotiations for baseball, wouldn't say owners and the new union had a tentative agreement on the fate of the 22, let go when baseball accepted their resignations, handed in as part of a mass resignation plan by the old union that failed.

``I don't think it's a secret we have had discussions the last few weeks on the 22 and a possible settlement of their arbitration case,'' Alderson said. ``The status of the 22 is inextricably related to successfully concluding a collective bargaining agreement. To suggest we are that close is misleading. I think there are significant aspects of the proposal on the 22 that remain undecided.''

Baseball said it merely accepted the resignations of the 22, while the MLUA says the umps should have been allowed to withdraw their resignations and were illegally fired.

In addition, one of the two lawyers said the sides are close to resolving their disagreement on management's demand that umpires, in most cases, not talk with reporters without advance consent from the commissioner's office.

The sides remain apart on money and on the umpires' demand that they not be disciplined without just cause.