HERE ARE the facts. There are 14 baseball teams in the American League. The Chicago White Sox are among them. The White Sox do not lead the league in either victories or attendance. The present owners of the Chicago White Sox wish to sell the team. A wealthy businessnam made an offer that the owners of the White Sox voted overwhelmingly to accept. The same of any team has to be approved by at least 10 of the 14 teams in the league. Last week, for the second time, the league owners refused to approve the sale of the White Sox to the wealthy businessman.
Why? What could be wrong? the businessman has previously purchased teams in the National Hockey League and in the National Football League as well as horse-racing tracks in three different states. He is the owner of his own company, which he founded and which has been described as the largest non-public company in the nation. The would-be buyer's credit is very good.
In order to buy those teams and those race tracks, he had to withstand and to pass the most intense scrutiny be league and state authorities. Five different investigations produced nothing but clean bills of health.
Some of the other owners expressed concern about the would-be purchaser's racing properties. He pledged to sell them. Other owners mumbled reservations about the fact that the businessman did not live in Chicago. He pledged to move to Chicago. He was accused of buying the White Sox to move the team from Chicago. He pledged to keep the White Sox in Chicago, offered $5 million as security, and pointed out that no move could be made without the other owners' aproval. Still, the American League owners refused to approve the sale to the businessman.
If the would-be purchaser were black or Hispanic or female, then it is likely that discrimination would be presumed and charged. Connections with horse racing have not been a problem for the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates' team, whose colts have won two Kentucky Derbys. One of the American League owners, sitting in judgment on the businessman, was, himself, convicted of making illegal corporate contributions to the 1972 comapain of President Richard Nixon.
Then what is wrong?Why is this man prevented from buying the Chicago White Sox? There are suspicions that it has something to do with the man's heritage and home town. The successful businessman is Edward J. DeBartolo of Youngstown, Ohio, and it is being wondered if he is thought not "good" enough to own a baseball team because his name ends with a vowel. This is a disgusting possibility. If it is not true, then Mr. DeBartolo and baseball fans deserve an explanation from the other team owners and from Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who has spearheaded the opposition to Mr. DeBartolo, as to what respectable reason they have for their actions.