Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves, has been suspended by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn for tampering while trying to obtain the services of former San Francisco outfielder Gary Mathews.
A spokesman for the commissioner said today the Atlanta owner would be suspended for one year, but no date has yet been set for the start of the suspension.
Mathews was the Braves' first choice in the Nov. 4 re-entry draft, and he has signed a contract with the team. Turner, 38, reached in Atlanta, said he had been notified that the Braves must fortfeit their first round choice in the June baseball draft.
"I'm thankful he didn't order me shot," said Turner. "I don't really think we did anything seriously wrong" in the process of drafting and signing Mathews." Turner said he would talk Monday with Kuhn.
The commissioner's actio was in connection with a public statement attributed to Turner during October's World Series. Turner, openly conveting the free-agent outfielder, told San Francisco owner Bob Lurie, "No matter what you offer Gary, I'll do better."
The mention of financial dealings at that time was illegal, since under baseball rules no contract talks could be undertaken before the players were picked in the free-agent draft Nov. 4.
League directives permitted teams to talk with prospective draft choices about possible employment and what the players wanted in terms of location. The comments attributed to Turner about what he was willing to pay Mathews came during a party Turner gave for Mathews.
Kuhn heard Turner's case at a special hearing on the day of the free-agent draft and handed down his decision to suspend him on Thursday, according to Bob Wirz, public relations director for the commissioner's office.
Meanwhile, Kuhn has lifted a ban against the Braves keeping Mathews. The player had been signed to an Atlanta contract for a reported $1.75 million, but the commissioner had held up the signing pending an investigation.
In effect, this threw the ball back in the lap of National League president Chub Feeney, who was expected to approve Mathew's contract with Atlanta.
Kuhn's long holding action on the Mathew's contract became a source of annoyance to the Major League Players Association. Marvin Miller, association president, had called it "harassment" from the baseball office.
On the effective date of Turner's suspension, he will not be able to participate in any operation of the team for a full year, Wirz said.
Turner was fined $10,000 last season by Kuhn for tampering with Mathews.
However, both Mathews and Turner denied any undercover work. Turner denied any undercover work. Mathews, acknowledged as one of the best young center fielders in the game was chosen by the Braves in the Nov. 4 draft. Just before the draft, Turner and the player submitted sworn statements that no rules were broken in predraft conversations.
Turner becomes the second team owner to be suspended by the commissioner in three years. George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees was banned for a two-year period for illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's presidential campaign in 1972.
Steinbrenner's suspension was lifted after less than 12 months by Kuhn, allowing him to again take an active part in running the Yankees prior to the 1976 season.