Little Change in Vincent Position on Mariners

From Staff and Wire Reports

Commissioner Fay Vincent said Tuesday there was still a chance, though remote, that the Seattle Mariners would be sold to a Japanese-led group.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo Co. Ltd., has proposed to finance a group that would purchase the Mariners from Jeff Smulyan, the Indianapolis broadcasting executive who is trying to sell the club for $100 million. The proposed deal, coming amid a wave of anti-Japan sentiment sweeping the United States, was called “unlikely” by Vincent when it was proposed Jan. 23, and has gained no public support thus far from owners of the other 25 teams.

“I don’t think I would change my statement,” Vincent said after a 75-minute meeting with Washington Gov. Booth Gardner and Seattle Mayor Norman Rice. “Because what I said was there is a policy or a set of principles, and in light of those principles, it would be my judgment that a transaction of the sort which has been presented would not be approved.”

Washington Sen. Slade Gorton, who helped put together the group, said Tuesday that “we would not just casually accept an arbitrary turndown of the offer.”

Smulyan, under pressure from bankers to sell the team, has met with officials of St. Petersburg, Fla., which is trying to lure the Mariners.