Negotiations between representatives of the baseball owners and players will be resumed this afternoon in New York in an effort to resolve the 5-day-old strike.
Meanwhile, also in New York, Oriole owner Edward Bennett Williams and perhaps one or two other owners reportedly will meet with Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to discuss the strike situation. Last year, a group of owners, including Williams, was influential in achieving a settlement before the strike deadline.
Williams could not be reached for comment. But Ray Grebey, the owners' chief negotiatior, said there "is no meeting (today) between Mr. Kuhn and any owners."
A spokesman for Kuhn refused to confirm or deny the meeting, saying, "Who the commissioner has meetings with isn't something he necessarily divulges."
Eddie Chiles, the owner of the Texas Rangers, told radio station KRLD in Dallas yesterday he was going to take an active part in settling the strike, noting, "Somebody has to do something to make things happen."
Chiles, who said in a radio interview last month that free-agent compensation -- the issue that caused this strike -- is not necessary, told a KRLD reporter, "I'm not content to sit back in Fort Worth and wait for something to happen in New York."
Over the weekend, Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said he would return to the bargaining table if the 26 owners came too. Miller said that to reach a settlement, the club owners would have to be better informed about the state of the negotiations.
While declining to say specifically that he hoped to attend today's bargaining session, Williams told the Associated Press that he hoped to meet with Kuhn and American League President Lee MacPhail "to find out what's happening."
The board of directors for the owners' Player Relations Committee issued a statement responding to "suggestions that others replace the bargaining group" by reaffirming its support of Grebey and his bargaining team. "The bargaining team . . . is in place and will remain in place," the statement said.
Don Fehr, general counsel of the players association, said, "The (owners') bargaining team that has been at the table hasn't produced an agreement and there is no indication that it will. We're not trying to tell them who they ought to have, but if they are operating with instructions, they ought to change them. And if they are operating without instructions, that speaks for itself.
"If this (statement) is a reaction to the one or more owners suggesting they would like to appear at the negotiations, I find it incredible that they would tell their own principals they can't come. It's one thing for owners to say they don't want to come. It's another to tell them they can't." o
Clearly, some owners do not want to join the negotiations, or see a need to. "I don't think the owners should get into it," said Calvin Griffith, owner of the Minnesota Twins. "They have already given their authority to the (player relations) committee that deals with it day in and day out while the owners have not. If (the owners) were versed in it, they could have something to say. Of course, they do have something to say. But it's better to leave it to the people whose job it is that (to those who) are just getting their names in the paper.
"The committee has our authority," he added. "We voted for it, 26-0."
Doug DeCinces, the American League representative who will miss today's talks because of a back injury, refused to comment on the possibility of Williams' involvement. However, DeCinces said, "I truly believe that if the owners go to the table, it would enhance the chances of settling the strike . . . Why aren't they at the meetings? Mr Williams is one of the great negotiators. (Yankee owner) George Steinbrenner is one of the top businessmen."
The by-laws of the Player Relations Committee Inc. specify that its board of directors -- the two league presidents and three owners from each league -- "shall have exclusive authority to direct and conduct all negotiations" with the players association and "may conclude tentative agreements with respect to any basic agreement."
Final agreements, however, must be ratified by a majority of the clubs, with at least five teams from each league included in the majority.
Grebey is the director of and an employe of the Player Relations Committee.
One source close to the situation said, "I do not believe that Williams or the other reasonable owners have enough clout to effect the decisions that closed down their business. They have been very effectively isolated. It is intriguing that the people with the money have turned over all their authority to their employes."
Miller, the players' employe, has removed himself indefinitely from the negotiations. "You know why Marvin isn't there?" DeCinces said. "Grebey told him, 'I tell my owners what to do. Why don't you tell your players?' Grebey thinks Marvin is running the whole show, that it's all Marvin's fault. It is a great misconception. Now Ray Grebey can deal with the players."
Grebey said that DeCinces' account was inaccurate.
The players will be represented at today's talks by Bob Boone of the Phillies, Steve Rogers of the Expos, Mark Belanger of the Orioles and probably Rusty Staub of the Mets.
In Baltimore, Hank Peters, the general manager of the Orioles, announced the team policy on ticket refunds for the duration of the strike. Fans will be able to exchange tickets for those to any future 1981 home game or for cash.
Refunds are available only for games that have been officially canceled. Exchanges can be made anytime from now to the end of the regular season at Memorial Stadium, or by mail through the stadium ticket office.