Negotiations for a new stadium are progressing, bringing the promise of new revenue and more profit to the Angels, who said they lost $10 million last year.
But not even the prospects of a cozy new ballpark, luxury suites and a more lucrative lease can keep the Autry family in baseball.
"Neither Gene nor I have the stomach to deal with a lot of the outside pressures of the game anymore," said Jackie Autry, who has run the team for husband and owner Gene Autry since 1986. "If I could just be an owner and deal with what happens between the white lines, it would be a perfect world."
Media criticism, labor disputes and rising costs are among the reasons the Autry family has decided to sell a minority interest to former baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.
Ueberroth is in the process of buying a 25% share of the team with an option to purchase the remaining 75% after the death of Gene Autry, 87. Though he won't initially be the Angels' majority owner, Ueberroth will become managing general partner and take over the club's daily operations.
"It's the perfect situation for both Gene and I," Autry said. "It allows us to still be associated with the Angels as 75% owners, and all we have to do is come out and enjoy the game."
Autry attended her first spring-training game of the season Friday, watching the Angels beat the Chicago Cubs, 7-6, in front of 1,963 in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
She said she "wasn't particularly thrilled about seeing replacement players," but believes their presence eventually will lead to serious negotiations between players and owners to settle the strike.
"I admire these young men for playing baseball and at least making something happen," she said. "If they weren't playing, we wouldn't have any baseball of any kind in the foreseeable future."
Autry, who has not been a part of the owners' negotiating committee but has received updates through conference calls, would not speculate on the chances for a settlement before the start of the regular season April 2.
But she believes the strike has caused irreparable damage.
"From the public's point of view there will be a backlash," Autry said. "I don't know how long it will be, but I think the backlash will also come from sponsors and advertisers.
"Without knowing what's happening, who's going to be playing in 1995 or whether they'll be playing at all, I'm sure sponsors are very reticent to commit dollars (to baseball). That's one reason a long-term agreement, of at least seven years, is imperative, so advertisers realize we're going to have labor peace for a long time."
Former Seattle Mariner and Texas Ranger reliever Mike Schooler, who gave up two runs in the ninth inning Friday, said he is "probably leaning toward starting the season" with the Angels' replacement team.
"That's not to say I don't have allegiance to the players association, I'm behind them," said Schooler, a former Garden Grove High and Cal State Fullerton pitcher who had 63 saves for the Mariners in 1989 and '90. "But my main allegiance is to myself and my family."
Schooler, who has been bothered by arm injuries the last four years, has appeared in four spring-training games, allowing three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
"My arm is coming along well--I want to pitch and stay in their plans," said Schooler, 32. "This has been one of the toughest baseball decisions I've made in my life."
The Angels broke a 4-4 tie with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday. Lenny Randle had an RBI single and Phil Ouellette capped the rally with a two-run single to left field. . . . Second baseman Joe Urso, who is battling J.D. Ramirez for the starting job, had a two-run single in the second inning and made a diving, back-hand grab of Joey Terilli's grounder up the middle, turning it into an inning-ending force out at second.