The owners of the 26 major league baseball teams have tentatively approved a concept designed to give them more day-to-day authority and to reduce the commissioner's control.
Orioles General Manager Hank Peters, who returned today from a two-day general meeting of owners in Chicago, said the proposal would create a board of directors comprising all 26 owners and an executive committee of eight owners to take an active role in major league policy making and planning.
The system, Peters said, would replace the current complicated setup in which "the top baseball executive is the commissioner."
Currently, eight owners and the National and American league presidents sit on a 10-man Executive Council. But Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, officials of the two leagues, and the major league promotional corporation all operate with relative autonomy.
Peters said the new proposal would bring them under one umbrella.
The proposal was framed by a restructuring committee appointed by the owners in December. Cochairman Roy Eisenhardt, the Oakland A's owner, told the Associated Press in Chicago that no vote was taken, but that the owners informally endorsed the plan and are hoping to have a vote at the regular summer meeting at San Diego in August.
Peters said the plan, if approved, would provide "more input by ownership in many decisions and policies." But he cautioned that initial endorsement did not guarantee final approval. "It may be that you endorse the concept, but when it comes time to approve the individual pieces, you might well have more controversy."
National League owners at the meeting also approved a rules change that scuttles the old "unanimous vote rule," under which all league owners have to approve a stand on major issues. In the future, each league will vote as an entity on major policy decisions, with a three-fourths majority required within the league.
In the old system, a single, intransigent owner could block an important decision.