Weiner health declines; Clark in line to be deputy
NEW YORK (AP) — Confined to a wheelchair, unable to move his right side, Michael Weiner spoke about his brain tumor.
“I don’t know if I look at things differently. Maybe they just became more important to me and more conscious to me going forward,” the baseball players’ association boss said Tuesday. “As corny as this sounds, I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”
Weiner took over from Donald Fehr in December 2009 to become the fourth head of the union since 1966. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor last August and remains at work. The union will appoint a deputy executive director within two weeks, and the union’s executive board will decide whether that deputy will succeed him. The executive board meets in La Jolla, Calif., from Dec. 2-5.
“We have an emergency contingency plan that’s been in place for several months, and we are within a week or two of having a plan that will deal with a deputy executive director that will succeed and ultimately be voted on by the board in November,” Weiner said Tuesday during his annual pre-All-Star game meeting with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
If Weiner can’t serve between now and the board meeting, the deputy will become interim executive director.
Former major league first baseman Tony Clark, who joined the union staff in 2010 after a 15-year playing career, has emerged as the top contender for the deputy role. Clark, a 2001 All-Star, became a union leader shortly after going to his first executive board meeting in 1999 and currently is director of player services.
“He was always a guy that everyone looked up to as far as young players coming up. Veteran players always fed him questions. They had a problem, they would go to Tony Clark,” Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan said. “He’s still a guy that everyone thinks that’s the guy to go whenever you have a question, and he’ll have an answer. He is a natural leader, and he’s right where he needs to be for the players and Major League Baseball.”
Fehr and former union chief operating officer Gene Orza will not be returning.
“Gene has been very, very helpful throughout the process. But Gene has made clear publicly he will not work at the players’ association,” Weiner said. “Don is a little more complicated. He always was. But let me say it this way, I do not expect that Don Fehr will work again at the players’ association, as well, and I don’t think Don expects to work there, either.”
Following baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s meeting with the BBWAA, Weiner began his 25-minute session by discussing his illness.
“The last couple of weeks, let’s just say about the middle of June, I experienced a rapid increase in symptoms, particularly right-side symptoms,” he said. “I can’t move my right side. I cannot move my right arm at all.”
His doctor has put him on a new form of medication and hopes to get approval to use another medication for the brain tumor.
Weiner was at Citi Field for the All-Star game, and players passionately talked about their feelings for him.
Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter spoke at length in the clubhouse before batting practice about Weiner, and seeing him in a wheelchair. Hunter was very passionate at times during the discussion, and it was obvious that Weiner means a lot to him.
“It’s tough to see him like that but, at the same time, he’s happy. He doesn’t want the sympathy, and he still wants to work,” Hunter said. “It’s amazing from spring training, he’s walking and talking and telling us everything, and now to see him in a wheelchair in three months is tough. It’s tough to look at.”
Weiner retained his sense of humor at the BBWAA meeting, making jokes about Fehr and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
“I live each day for little things, and I wake up each day looking for those things because I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth,” he said.
He received a 40-second standing ovation from the BBWAA.
“I hope my ovation was at least as long as Bud’s,” Weiner said, smiling.
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg and AP freelance writer Scott Orgera contributed to this report.