Former president Richard Nixon has been selected as the arbitrator in the contract dispute between the Major League Umpires Association and the two leagues, a spokesman for Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said today.
Richard Levin of Ueberroth's office said Nixon had been chosen by the umpires union and the league presidents to resolve the disagreement that arose after the division playoffs were expanded to best-of-seven series this year.
Richie Phillips, head of the umpires union, said of Nixon, "He is a longtime friend of baseball and a man in whom both sides place a great deal of trust."
When Nixon was president, he was an avid Washington Redskins fan and on at least two occasions offered plays to George Allen, then coach of the team.
Nixon is expected to hold a hearing Friday in New York or Saturday in the AL city where the World Series is scheduled to open that day. The site and date of the hearing will depend on the outcome of the playoffs.
The umpires had balked at working the expanded playoff series, which had been a best-of-five since being introduced in 1969.
The umpires had threatened to work only the first five games unless they received more money for the two extra games. Last year, they struck three American League playoff games and the first four games in the NL series, returning only for the final game when Ueberroth agreed to arbitrate their dispute.
The settlement a year ago called for payment of $10,000 per umpire for the 12 men working the two series, and a contribution of $160,000 to a pool for distribution among the other major league umpires who were not working.