If, as expected, major league baseball owners are unable to approve a new general partner for the New York Yankees by the Aug. 20 deadline for George Steinbrenner's resignation from that position, Steinbrenner will have to choose someone to control the club's day-to-day operations until a new general partner is approved.
But deputy baseball commissioner Steve Greenberg said yesterday that if Steinbrenner appointed his son Hank as interim general partner the move may not be well-received by other major league owners. This comes amidst growing speculation the owners may not approve Hank Steinbrenner as permanent general partner, regardless.
It is expected the Yankees partnership group will approve Hank Steinbrenner as general partner when it holds a meeting now tentatively scheduled for Aug. 15 in Cleveland. (The meeting originally had been scheduled for yesterday, but it was postponed because of an illness in one of the limited partners' family.)
But before Hank Steinbrenner can become general partner, the owners' eight-member ownership committee will have to study the move and make a recommendation to the rest of the owners. Then, 10 of the other 13 American League owners and seven of the 12 National League owners must vote to approve.
Because it seems clear the necessary approval for Hank Steinbrenner will not be automatic, Greenberg said a decision by George Steinbrenner to give interim control of the Yankees to Hank "might force the hand of the ownership committee in a direction he might not want."
The committee is chaired by Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox. It includes Charles Brumback of the Cubs, Fred Kuhlmann of the St. Louis Cardinals, John McMullen of the Astros, Peter O'Malley of the Dodgers, Walter Haas of the Athletics and Bud Selig of the Brewers. George Steinbrenner also is on the committee, but Reinsdorf has said he expects Steinbrenner will recuse himself from these discussions.
Saying "it is a pretty safe bet" the major league owners will not approve a new general partner by Aug. 20, Reinsdorf said yesterday he would talk to George Steinbrenner about naming an interim general partner. Perhaps as a precursor to that conversation, the ownership committee met via conference call yesterday.
Reinsdorf characterized the committee's discussions as "very preliminary" and said they pertained to how it was going to proceed.
"I'll react to who George names as interim partner when he names someone," Reinsdorf said.
Reacting to Greenberg's comments, Yankees limited partner Marvin Goldklang said: "If that is the view of the commissioner's office, and it's made clear to George, I would think he would be responsive."
Reinsdorf said it is "too early" to assess Hank Steinbrenner's chances of becoming permanent general partner.
"Anybody who takes a position pro or con on Hank is making a mistake," Reinsdorf said. "It's not fair to make a judgment until we have all the facts. We don't have all the facts. It's irresponsible to take a stand for Hank right now, it's irresponsible to take a stand against Hank right now."
In another development, Greenberg said he did not believe the agreement between Steinbrenner and Vincent that will result in Steinbrenner's resignation needs to be altered for tax purposes.
That had been the contention of Steinbrenner's attorneys when he sent a letter to the limited partners asking them to allow him to remain "akin to general partner" for "all financial, tax and other business purposes." Vincent had said the request "didn't track the agreement," but referred the matter to his attorney.