D.C. Council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), back from a California trip with Mayor Marion Barry to lobby for a baseball team in Washington, said yesterday that the District is trying to persuade wealthy minorities from around the nation to become investors in a D.C. team.

Smith, chairman of the city's baseball commission, said the issue of minority participation has become even more important in the wake of a controversy that erupted this spring over the absence of blacks as baseball managers or owners.

Smith and the mayor went to Oakland to lobby the baseball owners' meeting. Smith said District officials were trying to help move the minority issue "to the front burner," and that he and Barry will meet with black mayors of other cities with baseball teams in an effort to put "political pressure" on baseball officials to support minority participation and a team for Washington.

The controversy over black ownership "has been a tremendous new thrust," Smith said. "I've met with Jesse Jackson and talked to him about it. We want to put together a team that has a majority black ownership."

Smith said the city previously has talked of minority participation in the 30 to 35 percent range, but now believes that minorities could own as much as 55 percent.

"We're casting a wide net because we're talking about {costs of} $40 million here," he said.

Smith returned from Oakland on Monday. Barry remained in California for the All-Star Game Tuesday night, and both Smith and Barry's staff said the mayor planned to go to Los Angeles to meet with Mayor Tom Bradley yesterday.

Ali Webb, Bradley's press secretary, said yesterday that the Los Angeles mayor had a full schedule and had no plans to meet with Barry. Barry, who was scheduled to return to Washington late last night, could not be reached for comment and did not return a telephone message left at Bradley's office.

"Everybody ought to be helping us get a team here," Smith said in a telephone interview yesterday. "It's in the interest of our nation and our city."

Smith said he and Barry attended several events even though they were barred from participating in meetings and were not allowed to have a cocktail reception in the Oakland Hyatt International, where the baseball owners were staying.

The reception, which was paid for by Potomac Electric Power Co. and arranged by Pepco lobbyist Harold Brazil, was moved down the street to Bok Sen, a Chinese restaurant. The event was poorly attended, said Smith, blaming that fact on restrictions imposed by baseball officials.

"We think it's absolutely ridiculous {to} protect these owners from being lobbied," Smith said. "It hurts our interests."

Smith said he spent much of his time trying to find various baseball officials and owners to get them to listen to his pitch for the District.

"It's kind of an interesting role," he said. "We became lobbyists. I understand where the word comes from -- you spend a lot of time in the lobby waiting for somebody."