Baseball's executive council, the ruling body governing the major leagues in the absence of a commissioner, apparently will vote tomorrow before announcing the one-year suspension of Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.
"We have enough votes [for suspension]," an unidentified owner familiar with the process told the Dayton Daily News Sunday. "It won't be unanimous. There is some opposition, but not enough."
The newspaper reported that the one-year suspension is the recommendation of the committee appointed by Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, head of the executive council, to investigate racial charges against Schott.
"The council will meet to take a formal vote on the recommendation," the source was quoted as saying, "but there are enough votes for suspension."
However, Selig told The New York Times: "No decision has been reached. That's why we're having a council meeting."
The meeting of the executive council will take place tomorrow morning at a hotel on the grounds of Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Four council members investigated charges that Schott made racist and anti-Semitic remarks. The owner appeared before the council in a 4 1/2 -hour session in Dallas Jan. 22.
Robert Bennett, the Washington lawyer hired to represent Schott in the investigation, has said that a suspension of his client would result in legal action. Repeated calls to Bennett's office yesterday went unanswered.
How effective a lawsuit would be is unknown, because nobody ever has gone to court to appeal a suspension. And unless Bennett can obtain an injunction or temporary restraining order, it is unlikely the case would be heard before the suspension had run its course.
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner twice has been suspended by a commissioner without pursuing the matter in court.
He was suspended by Bowie Kuhn for involvement in illegal contributions to the campaign of former President Richard Nixon in the 1970s and by Fay Vincent for paying $40,000 to gambler Howard Spira in an effort to secure information about then-Yankee Dave Winfield.
Steinbrenner's most recent suspension, which ends March 1, included an agreement not to institute legal proceedings and was the result of a negotiated settlement with Vincent, who has been deposed as commissioner.
Orioles president Larry Lucchino refused to speculate on the Schott case.
"I can't say anything about Marge Schott. I don't know anything," said Lucchino.
Another American League owner, who wouldn't comment publicly on the case, said that he "expects a one-year suspension" for Schott, who also might draw a fine of as much as $250,000.
Bennett has indicated he would base a lawsuit on the fact that Schott is being judged by her peers (the executive council is made up of 11 owners) rather than an independent party (a commissioner).
Whether or not the suspension can be delayed, one lawyer outside of baseball but familiar with the game's inner workings, said Schott eventually will have to serve the suspension.
"You can always find a judge to issue an injunction or a restraining order," he said, "but it is my belief she will have to serve her time, as she should. When she bought the team, she bought into the bylaws of baseball."
It is under the broad term "conduct detrimental to baseball" that the executive council, in the absence of a commissioner, says it can assume the right to issue a suspension.
Selig, one of the leaders in the revolt to unseat Vincent, is the council's spokesman. He is scheduled to hold a news conference to announce the decision on Schott after tomorrow's meeting.