DuPuy: driving lawyer, fan, commissioner's deputy

Relocation oversight is just latest task Selig gave him


September 29, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

When baseball commissioner Bud Selig needs a difficult issue resolved, when he needs team owners to set aside competing interests, he often turns to his top aide, Bob DuPuy, a tough, button-downed lawyer from Milwaukee.

It was DuPuy, as Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer, who sat behind Selig during extra innings of the 2002 All-Star Game, offering advice before Selig made the difficult decision to declare the contest a tie.

It was DuPuy who helped Selig and the owners hold together in agreement as they avoided a potentially disastrous work stoppage with the players union later that summer.

"He is a brilliant lawyer," Selig said in an e-mail, "and an excellent negotiator who has played a central role in all matters pertaining to the management of Major League Baseball for the past decade."

DuPuy was in Baltimore yesterday for the second time in five days, negotiating with Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos over how to compensate his franchise if the Montreal Expos move to Washington.

There were other men in the room, but whenever Angelos and DuPuy get together, it's a pair of hard-driving lawyers going at each other, working to prove their points.

DuPuy helped give the presentation Thursday in Milwaukee, when baseball's relocation committee told Angelos and other members of the owners' Executive Council that Washington was by far the most suitable place for the Expos.

And yet, over the weekend, even as Angelos dug in his heels, contending that moving the Expos there would harm the Orioles, he was still telling people how much respect he has for DuPuy.

DuPuy, 56, grew up in Branford, Conn. He graduated from Dartmouth College, served in Vietnam in 1969 with the Army and earned a law degree at Cornell University.

He joined the Milwaukee law firm of Foley & Lardner in 1973 and became a partner seven years later. Selig met DuPuy at a Milwaukee racket club and later picked Foley & Lardner to represent family business interests, including the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 1989, when the players union sued baseball owners, alleging collusion, DuPuy helped negotiate a $280 million settlement. After Selig took over as baseball's acting commissioner in 1992, DuPuy became the league's principal outside legal counsel.

In 1998, Selig and the owners asked DuPuy to move to New York and work full time in the commissioner's office.

"He grew up listening to baseball at night, and he still does," said Greg Renz, a partner at Foley & Lardner who started working with DuPuy in 1975. "He has always loved baseball, and to me, Major League Baseball couldn't have a better person doing that job."

In 2002, Selig reorganized the commissioner's office, removing the two league presidents and transferring more of the power to DuPuy.

"I view myself as sort of a two-way funnel," DuPuy told USA Today this summer. "My job is to get the commissioner's policies and practices out to the 30 clubs, out to the public, out to the media and help the commissioner any way I can."

Said Selig: "He has been particularly effective throughout the relocation process. I have every confidence that he will produce an equitable solution that is in the best interests of the game."

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