Baseball’s executive council will suspend Cincinnati Red owner Marge Schott unless she agrees to step down as the club’s chief operating officer and appoint a replacement, sources said Wednesday.
Schott, accompanied by lawyer Robert Martin, was told during a five-hour meeting of the council in Philadelphia that she has until next Wednesday to comply. “This is not something we just put off. We’re on a very specific course,” acting Commissioner Bud Selig said.
“The executive council condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent comments attributed to Mrs. Schott.”
Selig referred to Schott’s ESPN interview in which she praised Adolf Hitler’s early years as German chancellor and subsequent ethnic and gender slurs in a Sports Illustrated article.
Schott was suspended for the 1993 season, fined $25,000 and ordered to undergo sensitivity counseling because of ethnic and racial slurs.
Selig said baseball’s concerns again stem from her comments and not the operation of the Reds.
“I do believe that social responsibility is part of the equation that one lives in when you’re in a business like this,” he said. “And I don’t think anybody can ever not accept all the manifestations or consequences of that.”
Said National League President Leonard Coleman: “This is the national pastime. We have the responsibility of leadership. Clearly as a sport we have to condemn ethnic intolerance. Anything that goes against that grain can’t be condoned.”
Schott refused comment after the meeting, but Cincinnati sources have said she is prepared to fight any attempt to have her yield daily control of the Reds’ operation and told the council that. The council believes it can suspend her again under the “best interest of baseball” provision and a league covenant providing for removal of club officials who bring embarrassment and disrepute to the game.
A major league official said the council is prepared to hand her a multiyear suspension unless she voluntarily gives up control and agrees not to sue baseball.
“It is obvious we are deeply concerned by this situation,” Selig said.