Baseball’s Opening Day Postponed; Little Chance of Lockout
NEW YORK (AP) _ Baseball pushed its opening day back to April 26 and ordered its teams to release their replacement players Saturday, as the return of real big league baseball appeared imminent.
The new date for opening day was part of a tentative agreement reached Saturday night between players and owners, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier in the day, the sides had discussed starting on April 23, but decided to make it later.
Meanwhile, there appeared to be less and less chance the owners would vote for a lockout when they meet Sunday in Chicago. Baseball officials said it was becoming apparent that hard-line owners couldn’t obtain the necessary 21 votes needed to start a lockout and continue the work stoppage that began when the players struck on Aug. 12.
``My guess is we’re not going to lock out,″ New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said during CBS’ national broadcast of the NCAA Final Four. ``Hopefully, we’ll get this mess negotiated.″
In the meantime, lawyers for management told the teams to release all replacement players by 11:59 p.m. EST Saturday.
``They just told us the season was over. They’re not going to have replacement games. Everybody got their travel orders,″ Indians catcher Pete Kuld said.
The replacement players had been scheduled to begin the 1995 major league season on Sunday night when the New York Mets were to meet the Florida Marlins in Miami. But that game was postponed after players and owners met Saturday, as were Sunday’s final seven exhibition games of a spring-training season that had featured replacement players.
A decision on the nine regular-season games scheduled for Monday will be made during the owners’ meeting.
Under a regular-season schedule now being worked out, the regular players would have three weeks of workouts to get in shape for the 1995 season. They could be back at work by Monday.
The regular 162-game schedule would also be cut to the 139-145 range, said National League Senior Vice President Katy Feeney.
Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, who refused to work with replacements, was overjoyed at the prospect of going to work with his regular players next week.
``Enough golf is enough golf,″ he said from his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
The work stoppage is the longest in professional sports history and led to the cancellation of the World Series last fall for the first time in 90 years.