BASEBALL : Major League Organizations Show Some Smarts With a Class Decision

It took 25 years, but professional baseball finally wised up and quietly adopted a realistic policy regarding financial aid for the college educations of young prospects.

Until last year, the most a team could offer a player was $1,500 per semester, which was fine if the player wanted to take classes at Cal State Northridge but peanuts if he wanted to go to USC or Pepperdine.

In addition, the player had to start using the funds by the end of his second season as a pro or lose them.


Unfortunately, top prospects more often than not are invited to play in fall instructional leagues after the regular season, making it impossible to enroll in a school for the fall semester. And the winter and spring is a time to prepare for spring training.

The money set aside for college, therefore, was often forfeited because the players were victims of their own talent.

Under the new rule, players can negotiate the amount of college aid just as they do their signing bonus. And the only deadline is that they must use the money two years after the end of their career.

Former Burroughs High pitcher Mike Rossiter, selected by the Oakland Athletics with the 38th pick in last month’s draft, signed a contract a few weeks ago that reportedly included $20,000-$30,000 for college.

“It creates a greater incentive to sign out of high school,” Oakland scout Craig Wallenbrock said of the restructuring. “It’s much more of an advantage for a player.”

Royalty: Kansas City rookie Mike Magnante is finding that pitching in the major leagues is easier the second time around.

The 1983 Burroughs High graduate was recalled from triple-A Omaha on April 21 after Mark Davis went on the disabled list. Magnante, a 26-year-old left-hander who played at UCLA, had been a starter for all but one game of his four-season professional career but was converted to a reliever in the majors.

Magnante made three appearances before being demoted May 3 when Davis recovered. But he was recalled June 14 when Bret Saberhagen was placed on the disabled list.

“The first time I was up, I was nervous to start out with and put in a role I was real unfamiliar with,” Magnante said last week before a game against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium. “I had a real tough time trying to get loose quickly. I was throwing what the catcher was calling, even though the catcher didn’t know me.

“The second time up, I was much more prepared mentally. I was more confident in what I could do. I know how to get ready quicker now. I have a better idea of what I want to do, and I’ve talked to the catchers about what I want to do.”

Through Saturday, Magnante had a 4.11 earned-run average in 15 1/3 innings and nine games with the Royals. He did not have a decision or a save.

Local flavor: The Indianapolis Indians defeated the Toledo Mud Hens, 2-0, in a triple-A game last Sunday as four Indianapolis pitchers combined for a no-hitter that had a distinct Valley-area feel.

Dave Schmidt, who pitched at Granada Hills High and UCLA, started for Indianapolis and pitched three innings, striking out two. Schmidt was on a rehabilitation assignment from the parent Montreal Expos.

Former Sylmar High and UCLA standout Dana Ridenour pitched the ninth inning to earn his fourth save.

All-Stars: Ridenour, who is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA and four saves in 33 appearances, was named to the National League team that will play against the American League in the triple-A all-star game Wednesday at Louisville, Ky.

Former Saugus High right-hander Roger Salkeld will participate in the double-A all-star game Wednesday at Huntsville, Ala.

Salkeld finished June with a 6-4 record, a 2.48 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 105 innings. Last week in a 1-0 loss to Huntsville, he struck out 13 in eight innings.

Dubious achievement: Pete Kuld, a former College of the Canyons and Pepperdine catcher who was traded from the San Diego Padres’ organization to the Texas Rangers a few weeks ago, is batting .268 with three homers and six runs batted in after 10 games for Tulsa (Okla.) in the double-A Texas League.

But he tied a Texas League record on the Fourth of July when he struck out five times against the Arkansas Travelers.

Career interruption: Travis Kinyoun, a catcher in the Kansas City Royals’ organization who played at Royal High in Simi Valley, will undergo knee surgery Monday in Green Bay, Wis.

Kinyoun, who is playing for Appleton (Wis.) in the Class-A Midwest League, was injured in a home plate collision. He had six hits in 20 at-bats in eight games after being promoted from Baseball City (Fla.), the Royals’ affiliate in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.

Recommended reading: Marvin Miller, who never wore a uniform, might have had a greater influence on baseball today than anyone else.

The multimillion dollar contracts that players are signing were born of Miller’s work as the first executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn. from 1966-1983.

In Miller’s “A Whole Different Ballgame: The Sport and Business of Baseball” (Carol Publishing Group, $21.95) readers get a behind-the-scenes look at how and why the first and most powerful sports union was formed.

Even fans who believe that Miller did more to ruin baseball than anyone before or since, will find the 413-page work interesting and entertaining.

Staff writer Steven Herbert contributed to this notebook.