Baseball's Executive Council has worked out a procedure for Bowie Kuhn to continue as commissioner when his term expires on Aug. 12, reports said yesterday before the owners' annual summer meeting that begins Wednesday in Boston.
"I'm not predicting it," Kuhn said, "but it's there. I have discussed the possibility with the council. But there has been no resolution of it and I want to stop there in mentioning it. There are a variety of scenarios that could develop."
One National League owner, however, said it would be "counterproductive" for the council to extend Kuhn's tenure in office.
"It would divide the owners and lead to anarchy," said the owner, who asked not to be identified. "The vote's been taken. You can't keep taking votes. You can't change history."
ABC Radio Sports quoted an unnamed club owner last night as saying a vote has been secretly taken and Kuhn was reelected as commissioner. However, New York Mets President Fred Wilpon denied the vote. "That's not true. It's just not the case," Wilpon told The Washington Post.
Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the board of the Chicago White Sox and a member of the Executive Council, also denied a secret vote had been taken.
"That's totally untrue," Reinsdorf told RKO Radio Network Sports. "There's no basis at all. I hope it happens but it's just not true at this time. There have been discussions in the last few weeks in an attempt to get a compromise but no agreement has been reached. We're not even close to a deal."
Kuhn was voted out in November when he failed to get the needed 75 percent majority in each league. He had support of 18 clubs, but five National League teams opposed him: New York, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati. Since that time, the owners who support Kuhn have complained bitterly about a system that thwarts the will of the majority. But the opposition appears to be resolute. The group is led by the St. Louis Cardinals, whose owner, August A. Busch Jr., has opposed Kuhn since he opened training camps in the labor dispute of 1976. The New York Mets oppose Kuhn because he favors some form of revenue sharing.
After the baseball strike in 1981, when Kuhn conspicuously remained on the sidelines, speculation began again that he would not be given a third term. Several names have been mentioned as potential successors, including former Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, but the politicking to save Kuhn's job has made it difficult for the search committee to pursue serious candidates.