Francis Thomas Vincent Jr. (born May 29, 1938), known as Fay Vincent, is a former entertainment lawyer, securities regulator, and sports executive who served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from September 13, 1989 to September 7, 1992.

Fay Vincent
8th Commissioner of Baseball
In office
September 13, 1989 – September 7, 1992
Preceded byA. Bartlett Giamatti
Succeeded byBud Selig
Personal details
Born
Francis Thomas Vincent Jr.

(1938-05-29) May 29, 1938 (age 81)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma materWilliams College
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Known forPresident of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (1998–2003)
MLB Commissioner

Early life and careerEdit

Vincent was born on May 29, 1938 in Waterbury, Connecticut,[1] the son of Alice (née Lynch), a teacher, and Francis Thomas Vincent, a telephone company employee and sports official.[1] He is a graduate of The Hotchkiss School.[2]

He attended Williams College, where a near-fatal accident left him with a crushed spine and paralyzed legs. He had been locked inside his dorm room as a prank; climbing onto the roof to escape he slipped off a four-story ledge. Surgery and three months in traction followed.[2] He overcame an initial diagnosis he would never walk again, but his leg never fully recovered and he has since relied on a cane.[3]

He received a B.A. degree from Williams (class of 1960) with honors and a J.D. degree from Yale Law School (class of 1963).[4] He went on to become a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Caplin & Drysdale. He also served as Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Beginning in 1978 he became the chairman of Columbia Pictures, and senior vice president of Coca-Cola when it purchased Columbia in March 1982.[5] In April 1986 he was promoted to Executive Vice President.[6]

Commissioner of BaseballEdit

At the behest of his longtime friend, incoming Commissioner of Baseball Bart Giamatti, Vincent accepted the position of deputy commissioner.[7]

After consulting with Giamatti's widow, Toni, he became the eighth commissioner of baseball following Giamatti's September 1, 1989 death. In his first year as commissioner, he presided over the 1989 World Series, which was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake;[8] the owners' lockout during Spring Training of the 1990 season;[9] and the expulsion of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from the game.[10]

In 1990, National League president Bill White was prepared to suspend umpire Joe West for slamming Philadelphia pitcher Dennis Cook to the field, but Vincent intervened and no discipline was imposed.[11]

On September 4, 1991 the Committee for Statistical Accuracy, appointed by Vincent, changed the definition of a no-hitter to require that a pitcher throw at least nine full innings and a complete game. Since New York Yankee Andy Hawkins (who never gave up a hit during a game against the Chicago White Sox on July 1, 1990, despite the White Sox winning the game 4-0) played for the visiting team, the White Sox never batted in the ninth inning and Hawkins lost the credit for a no-hitter.[12]

This same committee also ruled that Roger Maris was (then) the one and only single season home run record holder, overturning the 1961 decision of former commissioner Ford Frick that Maris and Ruth's home run totals should be listed side-by-side for 154 and 162 game seasons (contrary to popular belief, Frick never mentioned using an asterisk).[13]

Also during his commissionership, Vincent made it known (e.g. while being interviewed by Pat O'Brien during CBS' coverage of Game 4 of the 1991 World Series) that if he had the chance, he would get rid of the designated hitter rule.[14]

In the 2004 made-for-television movie about the Pete Rose affair, Hustle, Vincent was portrayed by actor Alan Jordan.[15]

1989 World SeriesEdit

On October 17, 1989, Vincent[16] sat in a field box behind the left dugout at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. At 5:04 p.m., just prior to Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, the 6.9 Mw Loma Prieta earthquake hit with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). At approximately 5:35 p.m., after coming to the conclusion that the power couldn't be restored before sunset, Vincent ordered the game to be postponed.[17] According to Vincent, he had already made the decision to postpone Game 3 without telling anybody first. As a result, the umpires filed a form of protest of Vincent's decision. However, the game had to be postponed due to trouble with gas lines as well as the power issue.[18]

The World Series ultimately resumed after a 10-day postponement[19] (and some initial conflict between Vincent and San Francisco mayor Art Agnos, who felt that the World Series ought to have been delayed much longer) on October 27, 1989. While presenting the World Series Trophy to the Athletics, who wound up winning the World Series in a four-game sweep, Vincent summed up the 1989 World Series as a "Remarkable World Series in many respects."

1990 lockoutEdit

In February 1990, owners announced that spring training would not be starting as scheduled. This occurred after MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr became afraid that the owners would institute a salary cap. Fehr believed that a salary cap could possibly restrict the number of choices free agents could make and a pay-for-performance scale would eliminate multiyear contracts. The lockout, which was the seventh work stoppage in baseball since 1972, lasted 32 games and wiped out all of spring training.[20]

Vincent worked with both the owners and MLBPA, and on March 19, 1990, Vincent was able to announce a new Basic Agreement (which raised the minimum major league salary from $68,000 to $100,000 and established a six-man study committee on revenue sharing). As a consequence for the lockout, Opening Day for the 1990 season was moved back a week to April 9, and the season was extended by three days to accommodate the normal 162-game schedule.[21]

George SteinbrennerEdit

On July 30, 1990, Vincent banned New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from baseball for life after Steinbrenner paid Howard Spira, a small-time gambler, $40,000 for "dirt" on his outfielder Dave Winfield after Winfield sued Steinbrenner for failing to pay his foundation the $300,000 guaranteed in his contract.[22] Steinbrenner was eventually reinstated in 1993 (one year after Vincent left office).[23]

Per Fay Vincent's interview on WFAN (NY) on July 14, 2010 (the day after Steinbrenner died), Vincent had wanted to suspend Steinbrenner for only two years. It was Steinbrenner who asked for a lifetime ban as he was tired of baseball and wanted to help run the US Olympic effort. Steinbrenner knew he could not run the Olympic effort if he was suspended, so he asked for a lifetime ban, which he received. Steinbrenner then applied for (and received) reinstatement after two years.

Steve HoweEdit

On June 24, 1992, Vincent permanently suspended pitcher Steve Howe for repeated drug offenses.[24] Vincent was incensed when upper Yankee management (Buck Showalter, Gene Michael, and Jack Lawn) agreed to testify on Howe's behalf, and threatened them with expulsion from the game:

[25]

The three men testified for Howe as promised, and remained active in baseball. Three months later, Vincent was removed from his job as commissioner. An arbitrator overturned Vincent's suspension of Howe on November 11, 1992.[26]

CollusionEdit

Fay Vincent on the effects of collusion:[7]

1993 expansionEdit

In June 1991, Vincent declared that the American League would receive $42 million of the National League's $190 million in expansion revenue and that the AL would provide players in the National League expansion draft (involving the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins).[27]

In an attempt to win support in the American League and balance the vote, Vincent decreed that the AL owners were entitled to 22 percent of the $190 million take. This decision marked the first time in expansion history that leagues were required to share expansion revenue or provide players for another league's expansion draft. He said the owners expanded to raise money to pay their collusion debt.[7]

RealignmentEdit

Just prior to leaving office, Vincent had plans to realign the National League. Vincent wanted the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to switch divisions with the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.[28] When Major League Baseball realigned in 1969, this geographical anomaly was created in order to give the Chicago and St. Louis franchises more games during television's prime time schedule. National League president Bill White warned Vincent that realigning without league approval would be in violation of the National League Constitution.[29]

Many thought this plan would be beneficial to the league as a whole, especially by building a regional rivalry between the new franchise in Miami and the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs, however, opposed the move, suggesting that fans in the Central Time Zone would be forced to watch more games originating on the West Coast with later broadcast times (had the realignment included the use of a balanced schedule, the Cubs would have actually played more games against teams outside their division).

On July 17, 1992, the Chicago Cubs sued Vincent[30] and asked the U.S. District Court in Chicago for a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation, which was granted two weeks later. After Vincent's attorneys appealed, oral arguments were scheduled for August 30 of that year. Ultimately, Vincent resigned before the litigation was scheduled to resume, so as a result, the Cubs dropped their suit.

Although Vincent's vision never really came into fruition, Major League Baseball did in fact realign in 1994, albeit in the form of three divisions in each league, and the addition of an expanded playoff format with the Wild Card.[31]

Vincent's relationship with the ownersEdit

His relationship with baseball's owners was always tenuous at best; he resigned in 1992 after the owners gave him an 18–9 no confidence vote.[32] The owners were still angry at Vincent over his intervention during the 1990 lockout. The owners were also disappointed by dwindling television ratings in light of a $1.2 billion, four-year deal with CBS[33] (which ultimately cost the network approximately $500 million) beginning in 1990 (Vincent's first full season as commissioner) and upwardly spiraling salaries. (It is also important to note that CBS itself contributed to decreasing ratings thanks to the haphazard scheduling of Game of the Week broadcasts during the regular season to the point that fans grew tired of tuning into no baseball on summer Saturdays.) They also accused him of acting in a high-handed manner, especially in the Howe affair. The leaders in the movement to oust Vincent were members of what The Sporting News later dubbed The Great Lakes Gang:[34]

In his farewell, Vincent said

He was replaced by Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig on an interim basis (he was named the permanent replacement in 1998), whose family continued to maintain ownership over the Brewers. Fay Vincent was never able to complete the five-year term that he had inherited from Bart Giamatti.[35] Vincent would later contend that Major League Baseball made a huge mistake by not appointing his deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg — the son of the Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg — as Commissioner.

Life after baseballEdit

After stepping down from the commissioner's office, Vincent became a private investor and the president of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Vincent would serve as the NECBL's president from 1998 to 2004.[36] In 2001, when baseball owners voted to contract two clubs, Vincent criticized them for not consulting the players' union. In 2002, Vincent wrote his autobiography The Last Commissioner: A Baseball Valentine.[37]

In 2005, during an interview with Fox Sports Radio, Vincent shared his thoughts on the controversy surrounding Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers, who received a 20-game suspension for a tirade directed at two TV cameramen. Vincent believed that Rogers, who had a record of 9–4 with 2.45 ERA at the time of the incident, shouldn't have been allowed to play in the All-Star Game in Detroit. Vincent said

Vincent has been critical of Major League Baseball's handling of the dreaded strike in 1994. Some observers feel that Vincent's absence (or any other permanent commissioner at the time) could have been a decisive turn in finding a compromise agreement. While being interviewed for ESPN Classic's SportsCentury (about the year in sports in 1994), Vincent believed that the strike turned out to be a lost cause since the end result was federal judge Sonia Sotomayor ruling that work had to resume under the previous collective bargaining agreement.

In March 2006, Vincent called on baseball to investigate (similar to the Dowd Report surrounding Pete Rose) possible steroids use by Barry Bonds,[38] saying the cloud hanging over his pursuit of the home run record is a crisis akin to the Black Sox scandal from 1919:

Vincent wrote in the April 24, 2006 issue of Sports Illustrated, that with most of Bonds' official troubles being off the field, and with the strength of the players' union, there was little Bud Selig could do beyond appointing an investigating committee. Vincent said that Selig is largely "an observer of a forum beyond his reach."[39]

On October 18, 2007, Vincent appeared with sportscaster Bob Costas at Williams College for "A Conversation About Sports", moderated by Will Dudley, Associate Professor of Philosophy.[40] On May 28, 1992, Vincent was awarded an honorary doctoral degree at Central Connecticut State University.[41] He also gave the 1992 Vance Distinguished Lecture at the university.

On May 18, 2008, Fairfield University conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Vincent where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2002, and where he created the need-based Alice Lynch Vincent Scholarship Fund in memory of his mother in December 1996.[42]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b HighBeam
  2. ^ a b Cohn, Roger. "Nothing But Curve Balls", The New York Times, June 3, 1990; accessed December 18, 2007. "At the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., young Fay played guard on the football team, excelled at Latin and French and was remembered by classmates for his witty parodies of the poetry of Keats and Coleridge."
  3. ^ Schulder, Michael. "Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent's Inspiring Tale Of Resilience". Sports.CBSlocal.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  4. ^ "Fay Vincent LAW '63 talks career as Commissioner". Yaledailynews.com. Yale Daily News. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  5. ^ "Gaudino Dialogue to Feature Former Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent on Failure, Creativity, and Triumph". Communications.Williams.edu. Williams College Office of Communications. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  6. ^ "Commissioners". MLB.MLB.com. MLB Advanved Media, LP. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Vincent interview by Maury Brown, 11-4-05, 11-8-05, published by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research)". Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2006.
  8. ^ "Fay Vincent Gets the Last Word". FoxSports.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  9. ^ Holtzman, Jerome. "TIME TO LIFT LOCKOUT-WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED". ChicagoTribune.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  10. ^ McCoy, Kevin; Pienciak, Richard. "The Boss Gets Benched! George Steinbrenner loses control of the Yankees in 1990 stunner". NYDailyNews.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Nidetz, Stephen. "STRANGE TWIST: NL SUSPENDS UMP HALLION FOR 3 GAMES". ChicagoTribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  12. ^ Politi, Steve. "25 years ago, Yankees' Andy Hawkins threw baseball's most painful no-hitter". NJ.com. Advance Local Media, LLC. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  13. ^ "Roger Maris Breaks Hope Run Record". History.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  14. ^ "BASEBALL : DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE MAJOR LEAGUES : Vincent Wants to Get Rid of DH Rule". LATimes.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hustle (TV Movie 2004)". IMDB.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  16. ^ Malinowski, Eric (October 14, 2014). "Fay Vincent Gets The Last Word". Fox Sports. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Justice, Richard. "Game 3 of World Series Postponed Until Friday". Washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  18. ^ Reeves, Jim. "1989 World Series: ppd. earthquake". Star-telegram.com. Fort Worth-Star Telegram. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  19. ^ Keown, Tim. "When the earth moved the series". ESPN.com. ESPN, Inc. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  20. ^ "Baseball Lockout Was a Joke". Deseretnews.com. Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  21. ^ Fagan, Ryan. "Baseball strikes and lockouts: a history of MLB work stoppages". SportingNews.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  22. ^ McLennan, Jim. "Baseball's Greatest Scandals, #10: Steinbrenner vs. Winfield". AZSnakepit.com. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  23. ^ Newhan, Ross. "Yankee Boss Can Return on March 1 : Baseball: Vincent says all restrictions on Steinbrenner will cease on that date". LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  24. ^ O’Connell, Jack. "No Saving Howe's Career". articles.courant.com. The Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  25. ^ Madden, Bill. "Howe's End, Like Billy's, No Surprise". NYDailyNews.com. New York Daily News. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  26. ^ "Howe's 'Lifetime Ban' Lifted". ChicagoTribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  27. ^ "Vincent Gives AL Owners Slice of NL Expansion Pie". TulsaWorld.com. BH Media Group, Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  28. ^ Rogers, Phil. "NL realignment could force moves of the legal variety". BaltimoreSun.com. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  29. ^ Newhan, Ross. "Vincent Orders a Realignment of NL : Baseball: He rules it in best interest of baseball to move St. Louis and Chicago to the West, Atlanta and Cincinnati to the East". LATimes.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  30. ^ Newhan, Ross. "Vincent Sued by Cubs to Halt Realignment". LATimes.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  31. ^ Newhan, Ross. "Baseball Owners Approve New League Lineup". LATimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  32. ^ "MLB History: Fay Vincent Forced Out as Commissioner". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  33. ^ Herbert, Steven. "World Series Hits a Single in Ratings". LATimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  34. ^ Strubel, John. "The Great Lakes Gang Sink Vincent". JohnStrubel.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  35. ^ Holtzman, Jerome. "BASEBALL REVOLT: OWNERS CALL ON VINCENT TO QUIT". ChicagoTribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  36. ^ "About Us | New England Collegiate Baseball League". New England Collegiate Baseball League. Archived from the original on 2018-09-28. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  37. ^ "The Last Commissioner". Simoandschuster.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  38. ^ "Mitchell to Head Steroid Investigation". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  39. ^ Vincent, Fay. "Power Shortage". SI.com. Sports Illustrated Network. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  40. ^ "Williams College Presents "A Conversation about Sports with Bob Costas and Fay Vincent"". Williams.edu. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  41. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". ccsu.edu. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  42. ^ "Fairfield University awards degrees to 1,233 graduates at 2008 commencement ceremony". Retrieved 2008-05-18.[dead link]

External linksEdit