WASHINGTON -- Baltimore Blast forward Dale Mitchell will sign with the Tacoma Stars if he is awarded free agency by arbitrator George Nicolau next week, Mitchell's wife, Diane, and father, Bill, said last night.
"Dale and I had a long talk [before Mitchell signed with the Kansas City Comets in July and was traded to the Blast Aug. 20], and we had decided to go back to Tacoma," Diane Mitchell said.
"I've wanted to get back to Tacoma. Dale was all set to sign with the Stars when Chris Clouser [chairman of the Comets' board of directors] called him in and pulled every string of deals to get him to stay in Kansas City. He [Clouser] talked about loyalty to the team, Dale's standing in the community and the importance of keeping our family in one place.
"He also told Dale he could help him get to the number [$90,000 a year, which is $18,000 over the maximum individual salary allowed in the Major Soccer League this season] he wanted by getting him commercials and endorsements."
Bill Mitchell said: "If Dale gets free agency, he will go to Tacoma. He can get the same money the Blast is giving him [$72,000 a year] in Tacoma. It's only three hours from his home in Vancouver [British Columbia]. He has no animosity against Baltimore."
Dale Mitchell had no comment last night after his contract grievance hearing before Nicolau ended at the MSL Players' Association headquarters.
Mitchell is contending that Clouser induced him to sign with the Comets in July by promising him "certain things over and above what was written in the contract," and then traded him to Baltimore, which had no knowledge of the extra incentives.
John Kerr, director of the MSLPA, is asking that Nicolau make Mitchell a free agent.
That would nullify the trade bringing Mitchell to the Blast from the Comets for Carl Valentine.
Nicolau, the arbitrator who ruled Monday that major-league baseball owners must pay the players $102.5 million for lost salaries for the 1987 and 1988 seasons for having colluded against free-agent players, listened to more than six hours of testimony from Mitchell, Clouser and Kansas City coach Dave Clements.
Nicolau asked that both parties send to him documents of legal precedents in the case by the end of the week.
Nicolau said he would hand down a decision in the case "by next week." He would not comment further on the case.
Blast owner Ed Hale continued to insist that Mitchell is under contract with the Blast.
"A contract's a contract," Hale said. "Unless there's something somebody hasn't told me, Dale Mitchell will be playing for the Blast next season.