Harry Edwards, hired by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to help minorities reach executive positions in baseball, has blocked proposals by black groups and should resign, officials of a black philanthropic organization said yesterday.
The Black United Fund of New York threatened to picket Ueberroth's Manhattan office next week to protest Edwards' refusal to set up a meeting between baseball owners and the organization. The group wants to stage two all-star benefit games in New York after the World Series in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier 40 years ago.
Edwards "was hired to put blacks in baseball's front offices and now he turns around and tells Ueberroth not to talk with us," said Kermit Eady, president of BUFNY. "Baseball does many charity games, but they're done for white charities."
Edwards, a sports sociologist and civil rights activist, said from his office at the University of California in Berkeley that while baseball does work to fight some diseases, he could not support a benefit game on behalf of a special interest group.
Edwards wrote the group he would advise Ueberroth and individual franchises not to participate in the games. Rich Levin, a Ueberroth spokesman, said the commissioner would stand by Edwards' decision.
"He's a puppet," said Joe Peters, the fund's sports director. "We view Harry Edwards' role as to keep black organizations who have meaningful proposals away from the commissioner.
"Harry Edwards' job as we understood it was to use his influence to get blacks into managerial positions. Cleveland fired their manager and Philadelphia fired their manager and not one black was interviewed for the jobs. He's failing or he's basically insensitive to what his job is supposed to be."
Ira Williams, vice president of Local 371 of New York's Social Services Employees Union, said his group would join in picketing Ueberroth's office.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has voided the June trade that sent guard Jim Paxson from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Cleveland Cavaliers for forward Keith Lee, whose knees were deemed a risk.
The Trail Blazers went to the commissioner after Lee failed the physical examination they gave him and the Cavaliers refused to call off the deal.