Hispanics, O's meet, 'open door' Uhlman talks are a start, Lucchino says SPRING TRAINING

March 10, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Orioles officials met yesterday with representatives of the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic lobbying organization that has called for the removal of scout Fred Uhlman Sr.

Club president Larry Lucchino, vice president Calvin Hill and assistant GM Frank Robinson met with La Raza officials Raul Yzaguirre and Lisa Navarrete in an attempt to clear the air after the uproar two weeks ago, when Uhlman made an offensive comment about the supposed "genetic" limitations of Mexican players.

Lucchino presented them with a written apology from Uhlman and a report on the club's internal review of its approach to the scouting, hiring and treatment of Hispanic personnel.

"I think we gave them a more complete picture of Fred Uhlman and a more complete picture of the Orioles with regard to Hispanic players, coaches and staff," Lucchino said. "I think that this opened the door to a better relationship -- a good working relationship -- with the Hispanic community."

Both sides said afterward that the session was a productive one, but Navarrete indicated that La Raza was not entirely satisfied with the club's response. The group has called for the firing or resignation of Uhlman, even though Yzaguirre and Navarrete concede that Uhlman's record of signing and promoting Hispanic players is exemplary.

"It was cordial and productive," said Navarrete, a spokeswoman for La Raza, "but we haven't resolved all the issues. The main issue not resolved is whether Mr. Uhlman will stay or go. We were satisfied with their tone -- with the fact that they totally refuted the remark. We're not totally satisfied with the situation involving Mr. Uhlman."

Apparently, the only thing that will satisfy the group on that count is Uhlman's job. Navarrete compared Uhlman's comments with those of other sports personalities who have been fired for racial insensitivity, and seemed to be saying that anything less would be a show of disrespect to the Hispanic community.

"We have reason to believe that Mr. Uhlman is a man with an outstanding record," Navarrete said, "but Al Campanis lost his job, even though the Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the most progressive organizations. Jimmy 'The Greek' [Snyder] lost his job. Why should remarks about Mexicans be dismissed when remarks about other groups are not?"

The Orioles never have defended Uhlman's comments, but the club continues to defend his record. Lucchino said he was hopeful he could impress on La Raza that the comments were not reflective of Uhlman's approach to scouting or the club's approach to Hispanics.

"I think they left with a much better sense of the Orioles' activities and point of view in this area," Lucchino said, "and I think we'll have future sessions as well."

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