Al Campanis, a Los Angeles Dodgers executive who said on national television Monday night that blacks "may not have some of the necessities" to become managers or high-level team executives, was fired by the National League team yesterday.

"Comments given by Al Campanis are so far removed from what the organization believes that it is impossible for Al to continue his responsibilities," team president Peter O'Malley said in Houston after breaking the news to Campanis.

Campanis, 70, the team's director of player personnel the past 19 years and a member of the Dodgers organization since 1943, returned to Los Angeles with O'Malley and was not available to comment. Campanis' duties will be taken over, at least temporarily, by Fred Claire, the team's executive vice president.

O'Malley Tuesday night said Campanis' job was "absolutely not" in jeopardy following a public apology "to the American people." But "the reflection of a good night's sleep after a hectic day yesterday helped me conclude that this was the appropriate, proper and right thing to do," O'Malley said.

Campanis' remarks on ABC's "Nightline" prompted immediate criticism from political and civil rights leaders and current and former major-leaguers, including career home run leader Hank Aaron.

Baltimore Orioles coach Frank Robinson said, Campanis "had to resign or be fired after what he said. . . . I'm glad to have it out in the open, so we can finally address this thing. Let's see where it goes now. I felt that people believed that for years but couldn't say it because I had no proof. Now, there's proof, and we can't let it die."

Raymond Johnson Jr., president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent O'Malley a telegram seeking Campanis' firing. Johnson and Mark Rosenbaum of the Los Angeles office of the American Civil Liberties Union called for the firing at a news conference a few minutes before the Dodgers announced it.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Firing Al Campanis was the right thing to do. But it's like firing the mailman when the issue is the postal service and the postmaster not enforcing affirmative action."

Although there have been three black managers -- Robinson, Larry Doby and Maury Wills -- there currently are none. Since Robinson was fired by the San Francisco Giants in 1984, there have been 30 managerial openings.

Aaron, director of player development for the Atlanta Braves, is the major leagues' only black in a top-level management position.

Last night, baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth appeared on "Nightline" and said, "I don't think we should dwell on {Campanis'} comments because they were incorrect, inaccurate, unfortunate, and he's apologized and he's paid a price.

"There can be a benefit from what I think is a very unfortunate set of remarks by somebody that was maybe thinking a little bit in the past or a lot in the past. Obviously the individual does not speak for baseball. He spoke for himself. He doesn't speak for the Dodgers, as I think the Dodgers proved very clearly today."

In his comments, Ueberroth did not refer to Campanis by name.

Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda broke into tears as he talked to reporters yesterday in Houston. "This is a sad day for baseball," he said. "Al dedicated his life to the Dodger organization. The man never had a prejudiced bone in his body. The good Lord forgave those who crucified Him. Baseball should do the same. This organization has made great progress in the hiring of minorities, and no one advanced the role of minorities more than Al."

A question from "Nightline" host Ted Koppel about the paucity of blacks in baseball front offices and as managers started the controversy.

"I don't believe it's prejudice," Campanis said in a live hookup from Houston. "I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager . . .

"I don't say all of them, but how many quarterbacks do you have? How many pitchers do you have that are black? So, it just might be -- why are black men, or black people, not good swimmers? Because they don't have the buoyancy?"

Koppel yesterday said, "I gave him a couple of chances to restate himself, but he just kept getting himself in deeper and deeper."

Aaron left his office early yesterday and was unavailable for comment. But former major league pitcher Jim Grant, who played with the Dodgers in the 1960s, said, "Maybe Al, in a backward way, did us a favor by bringing this out."

Staff writers Richard Justice and Steve Berkowitz contributed to this report.