George Steinbrenner will be replaced as New York Yankees general partner on an interim basis if the Yankees ownership group's nominee cannot be approved by major league owners by Steinbrenner's Aug. 20 resignation deadline, a baseball spokesman said today.

The issue was raised when a Yankees partnership meeting scheduled for today was postponed because a family illness would have prevented one of the 18 limited partners from attending, and one of the limited partners was quoted as saying she hopes Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent will grant them more time to consider the matter. George Steinbrenner has named his son Hank as the candidate to replace him.

"They must appoint a general partner by the 20th," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said. The approval process, which involves owners of the other major league teams, "takes some time," Levin said. "That's recognized."

Asked what would happen if the Yankees partnership group was unable to agree on an appointee by Aug. 20, Levin replied: "They will."

One limited partner, Marvin Goldklang, said it is "unlikely" the ownership group will not appoint a general partner by the deadline. But another, Charlotte Witkind, told Associated Press: "I would hope somebody would ask the commissioner to delay the deadline.

"I would be glad to go to him, but some of the other people thought it would be more appropriate for George or someone representing him to go to the commissioner," said Witkind, a Columbus, Ohio, resident whose family founded Federated Stores Inc., the parent company of several national department stores.

However, Goldklang said, "I think it's a common interest among all parties that we get this thing done quickly."

To become general partner, Hank Steinbrenner first must be approved by owners of two-thirds of the Yankees' stock. Then he must be approved by 10 of the other 13 American League owners and seven of the 12 National League owners.

In a related matter, former federal judge Harold Tyler, an attorney for baseball, said he expected a resolution today on Steinbrenner's request for an adjustment in the agreement governing his departure from day-to-day control of the Yankees.

Steinbrenner has asked his limited partners to allow him to "remain akin to general partner" for "all financial, tax and other business purposes." Vincent initially said the request, which Steinbrenner's attorneys said was made for tax and legal purposes, "didn't track the agreement." Tax lawyers in Tyler's firm have been examining the matter this week.