Don Fehr, executive director of the Major League Players Association, said yesterday that the baseball union's executive board will meet in Chicago on July 15, one day before the All-Star Game, to set a strike date.
He would not rule out the possibility that players might boycott the annual classic, which is to be played in Minneapolis.
"The bottom line," he said, "is that we've been bargaining since the 14th of November and the owners have yet to make what even they consider to be a serious offer. You have to wonder if they will ever make one or if they just want to pick a fight.
"I have no comment on the All-Star Game at all, except to say that the players have neither determined nor foreclosed any possibilities."
Lee MacPhail, president of the owners' Players Relations Committee, said yesterday, "It's inconceivable to me that (the players' union) would pull down the All-Star Game the day before the game. That would not be a mature way to handle the situation."
The next meeting between the two sides is set for Friday in New York.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, a four-time all-star who has hit 20 home runs this season, said, "There's been some speculation about a boycott, although I haven't heard anything directly from the players' association. But if they asked, I wouldn't be in favor of it . . . The All-Star Game is special, especially to the fans, and I wouldn't want to see that taken away from them."
MacPhail said of the continued talks, "(The players' union) told us that they have completed the review of the financial material we've given them. That's what has held things up. They have said that they will now give us a preliminary account of how they saw our financial position. I would gather that this is something that will take two or three meetings to do."