Commissioner Mitchell? Baseball might move quickly American League

April 13, 1994|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- In removing himself from consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. George Mitchell put himself into position yesterday to be named the next baseball commissioner.

Baseball officials would not say that Mitchell was their man for the job, which has been unfilled the last 19 months. But people familiar with their thinking said they were prepared to move quickly to get him before someone else did.

Mitchell, D-Maine, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election, has not said that he would accept the job of commissioner if it were offered. But at a news conference in Washington yesterday, at which he announced he had withdrawn his name from consideration for the Supreme Court, he said in response to a question, "If the position is offered to me, I will consider it at that time."

Major-league club owners decided last January that they would not fill the vacant commissioner's office until they negotiated a new labor agreement with the players. No one knows how long that process could take, but their stance presents no problem for Mitchell because his term in the Senate, from which he is retiring, runs until next January.

Furthermore, the people who talked on the condition of anonymity about the current thinking of baseball officials said Mitchell could be named well before he would take office. They cited the precedent of the election of Peter Ueberroth in 1984.

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