The canceled baseball season claimed its latest victims Wednesday when the Dodgers laid off almost 20 front-office employees, some who had worked for the team at least 20 years.
It was the first time in recent history that the club has had layoffs of such magnitude. Those affected were scouts as well as secretaries and switchboard operators.
"We have never gone through anything like this before," said Fred Claire, executive vice president. "It was not easy at all."
The Dodgers eliminated 20 full-time and five part-time positions, reducing their front-office staff to about 70, still high by industry standards. Depending on how many employees opt for an early retirement buyout (age 55), the staff might be reduced further next month. With 52 days of the regular season canceled, it is estimated the Dodgers lost about $14 million in net revenue.
Bob Graziano, vice president of finance, said the layoffs are permanent and the Dodgers have no plans to fill the positions when baseball resumes. The organization, however, offered affected employees a severance benefit package and the service of a placement firm to help them find employment.
"A few of the people who were laid off are still eligible for the early retirement (buyout)," Graziano said. "Those who were offered that program have until Oct. 31 to decide, and if we need to replace their position we would call on our people first who were laid off."
Among those laid off was Jerry Stephenson, a longtime major league advance scout who had been with the Dodgers for 21 years. He was the only employee from Claire's department who was cut.
This was the second cost-cutting measure the Dodgers have taken with the front-office staff since the Aug. 12 strike. At first, management salaries were reduced by 15% and other employees by 10%. Shortly after the strike, the Dodgers laid off about 600 part-time ushers, ticket takers, cleanup crews and day-of-game stadium operation staff.
Also Wednesday, the club rehired third base and infield coach Joe Amalfitano, bullpen coach Mark Cresse, bench coach Bill Russell, hitting instructor Reggie Smith and Manny Mota. Joe Ferguson's position as eye in the sky was previously eliminated.