Issue of New Baseball League Pops Up : Proposal Is Either a Diamond in the Rough or a Curve Ball

From Associated Press

A new baseball league? That's what Richard Moss appears to be planning.

Moss and four other player agents represent almost half the players in the major leagues. The agents have been invited to a meeting in New York on Wednesday to hear about plans for the proposed league, which some baseball executives say is only a ploy for the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.

The meeting was called by Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn. and a supporter of the project. Moss, general counsel for the players' association from 1966 to '77, doesn't want to talk about his role.

"I would say that if something is going to be said, it would be before the end of this baseball season," Moss said last weekend. "It would depend on whether there is going to be a new league or not."

Chief Architect

David Lefevre, a former minority owner of the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians and a partner at the New York law firm of Reid & Priest, is the chief architect of the proposed league, several people said. He could not be contacted in the last two weeks.

According to those with knowledge of the plans, there would be between eight and 12 franchises in 1990. Among areas under consideration are New York; northern New Jersey; Los Angeles; Washington; Tampa, St. Petersburg or Orlando, Fla.; Miami; Denver; Sacramento; Phoenix; Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Portland, Ore.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio, and New Orleans.

The cities were evaluated by Strategic Directions, a New York consulting company. According to those who have seen the report, the firm concluded "at least 27 markets are capable of supporting a new professional baseball franchise. Of these, 12 to 15 markets offer substantial and immediate potential for a new league."

$1-Million Payments

According to one source, five or six ownership groups have made $1-million payments backed by letters of credit for at least $5 million. One source said Moss would receive a franchise free or for reduced cost in exchange for organizing the league.

Moss declined to discuss the matter.

There have been reports that New York real estate king Donald J. Trump was involved in the project. Trump recently was quoted as saying that he was interested in the proposed league but had not decided if he would be involved.

Major league officials say they aren't worried about possible competition from a new league.

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