If he lacks the charisma and grandiloquence of his predecessor, Francis (Fay) Vincent Jr. is nonetheless a sound choice as baseball's eighth commissioner. As deputy commissioner under Bart Giamatti, who died of a heart attack on Sept. 1, Vincent, an attorney and former chief executive officer of Columbia Pictures, helped guide baseball through the Pete Rose case and worked closely with Giamatti to protect the game's traditions. "My agenda is Bart's agenda," said Vincent last week following his unanimous election by team owners at a meeting in Milwaukee.
Vincent faces a variety of stern challenges, including avoiding a players' strike next year (page 92). But he carries sterling credentials. He graduated from Williams College, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and Yale Law School and served as a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Because of his reputation for integrity, Columbia hired him in 1978 to replace studio head David Begelman, who had been implicated in a check-forging scandal. Vincent cleaned up a management quagmire and kept Columbia highly profitable.
Vincent grew up as a Philadelphia Athletics fan but was always better at football than baseball. He was a lineman and captain of the freshman team at Williams before a freak accident ended his athletic career. When a prankster locked him in his dorm room one day, Vincent climbed out the window to get into another room; he slipped and fell four stories, crushing two vertebrae and partially paralyzing his left leg. He now has to walk with a cane.
Vincent met Giamatti 12 years ago at a party. The two men found that they had much in common: Both were New Englanders, both loved literature, both had attended Yale—and both adored baseball. Vincent, who will serve out Giamatti's term, which runs through March 1994, shares his predecessor's view of the sport. "I don't like the designated hitter," he said last week. "I don't like aluminum bats. I do like grass. I do like baseball as you and I knew it growing up."
Vincent's first act as commissioner was to announce that this year's World Series will be played in Giamatti's memory. "His loss is an irreplaceable one," said Vincent. "I take the job. I do not replace Bart."
THE GRIDIRON CURTAIN
A security guard spotted some unfamiliar men watching a University of Washington football practice at Husky Stadium recently and got suspicious. When one of the men started taking photographs, the guard assumed that the uninvited visitors were spies for a rival school and hustled them out of the stadium.
In fact, the intruders were Soviet journalists, in Seattle to tour the facilities for the 1990 Goodwill Games. They were checking out Husky Stadium because it will be the site of the track and field events. Said one of the bewildered journalists as he was being escorted away, "This is glasnost?"
There's a 3-year-old thoroughbred colt named Blarney Clone. He was sired by Irish Castle out of a mare named Jeanne Splicer.