After meeting here yesterday with a contingent of Atlanta officials that included Mayor Maynard Jackson and Brave owner Ted Turner, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn said he would decide next week the conditions of Turner's one-year suspension for tampering.
Kuhn announced Dec. 30 that Turner would be suspended for a year, fined $10,000 and that the Braves would lose their first-round draft choice because Turner ignored warnings on how to deal wtih free-agent players.
At a cocktail party Oct. 20, Turner told San Francisco Giant co-owner Bob Lurie that he intended to outbid everyone for Giant outfielder Gary Matthews. Under the baseball's rules, clubs were forbidden from "contracting or discussing" financial terms with free agents until the re-entry draft Nov. 4.
Kuhn first issued the warning Oct. 5 after the Braves' general manager, John Alevisos, had made overtures to Matthews' agent. For that, Alevisos was fired by Turner.
Mayor Jackson, here with a group of city, county and civic officials for the inauguration of President-elect Jimmy Carter, told Kuhn he thought the punishment too severe for the crime. The Georgia legislature, in a resolution, and Gov. George Busbee stated similar sentiments in Atlanta.
After meeting with Kuhn, who flew here yesterday to accommodate the Georgians, Jackson said the group asked Kuhn "to reconsider and relieve Ted Turner of the suspension or to minimize it."
Jackson said he stressed the important contributions Turner has made to baseball and the Southeastern states by dedicating himself to promoting the team and increasing attendance during a time when Atlanta was having its worst recession in 40 year.
Jackson said the team had had a beneficial economic and social impact on the area and that the public would not understand such a harsh penalty.
After meeting later with Kuhn, Turner said he asked the commissioner to consider dropping the suspension, for which no starting date has been set.
"I think he was impressed by the group that came up from Atlanta this morning," Turner said. "But he gave us no indication or hope that penalty would be lightened.
"What will really hurt us more than my being suspended," he continued, "is the very serious problem of losing our first-round draft choice.
"But come opening day, the Atlanta Braves will put nine men on the field against the Houston Astros and the game will go on.
"The world's gotten along without Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ and John F. Kennedy since Gabriel blew his trumpet.And if we get along without them, the Atlanta Braves can get along without me for a year."
Asked if he thought Kuhn's postponing a decision on the conditions of the suspension might mean he would lift it, Turner replied, "D-Day was postponed because of the weather for one week, but it didn't stop us from invading Normandy."
The commissioner has suspended only one other owner, George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees. Steinbrenner was suspended for two years because of his conviction in federal court of making illegal campaign contributions. The suspension was lifted after a little more than a year.