The Milwaukee Brewers have paid a $50,000 fine imposed by major-league baseball on General Manager Harry Dalton for comments published in The Washington Post concerning labor negotiations with the players.
According to the Milwaukee Journal, the club will not appeal the first fine imposed by the owners' disciplinary committee, which was formed about 18 months ago and empowered to mete out fines up to $500,000.
The Dalton fine, about which major-league executives refused comment yesterday, partly in fear of similar fines being imposed on them, was a minimum amount, according to one management source. "It was either fine him that or nothing at all," he said.
Dalton, Milwaukee management, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office and Ray Grebey, baseball's chief negotiator, either refused comment or did not return reporters' phone calls.
Marvin Miller, director of the Major League Players Association, said, "I realize truth has a price. I didn't realize how expensive."
The fine was imposed because of Dalton's comments in a column by Washington Post Staff Writer Thomas Boswell in the paper's March 6 editions. According to the New York Times, which first reported the story on the fine in its editions yesterday, Dalton was fined for the following quotes attributed to him in the column:
"I hope that management is really looking for a compromise and not a 'victory.' But I'm not certain that's the case. I hope that we are not about to witness another macho test of wills. From what I hear, the players association is genuinely looking for a compromise, if we'll just give them something that they can accept without losing too much face."
Those remarks concerned negotiations over the plan the owners have implemented to compensate teams that lose certain players in the re-entry draft. The players have called a strike for May 29 if the owners do not change their position. The two sides will meet with a federal mediator Monday in New York to continue negotiations. They last met April 28, without apparent progress, it was learned.
The Associated Press reported that Dalton received a hearing from the management committee in Phoenix recently and acknowledged the accuracy fo the quotes. But, according to sources quoted by the Times, Dalton thought the telephone conversation was off the record.
"The call was initiated by Dalton, said George Soloman, The Washington Post's assistant managing editior/sports. "Dalton at no time placed anything off the record."
The five-man disciplinary committee is composed of Peter O'Malley of the Los Angeles Dodgers, William Wrigley of the Chicago Cubs, August Busch Jr. of the St. Louis Cardinals, John Fetzer of the Detroit Tigers and Jerold Hoffberger of the Baltimore Orioles. It was learned that the committee meets with three National League and two American League members when a case involves an American League executive comes from the National League.
The third American Leaguer would be either Gabe Paul of the Cleveland Indians or Ewing Kauffman of the Kansas City Royals.
The Milwaukee Journal reported yesterday that the Brewers have paid the fine. "I can only tell you one thing: I'm not going to say anything," Dalton was quoted as saying from Stockton, Calif., where he was watching a Brewer farm team play. Bud Selig, Milwaukee president, said, "I know the whole story and I have no comment. That's going to be our position."
Eddie Chiles, who recently became owner of the Texas Rangers, said he had not heard about the fine. "Bowie Kuhn fined him $500,000 . . . whew. All I can say is . . . whew. That's a pretty stiff fine for anything.I'm new and it takes a while to grasp the whole situation.I couldn't make any sensible comment. After that fine, I guess I shouldn't, anyway."
Miller, the players' negotiator, said the point is being forgotten that the disciplinary committee imposed the fine for "not parroting the party line" and not for just speaking about the negotiations. "The fact of the matter is everybody has been talking about the negotiations . . . all of them . . . the gag rule is if you don't parrot the party line," Miller said.
"It's bush," said Mark Belanger, player representative of the Baltimore Orioles. "It's not fair to have someone like Dalton express an opinion and have it cost him money. That's really sad . . . You can see a lot of the concern we have when you sit in there and try to reach an agreement, when they can't even agree among themselves."