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Frank Deford
April 15, 1985
Commissioner Peter Ueberroth speaks out on the important issues that face baseball today
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April 15, 1985

The Boss Takes His Cuts

Commissioner Peter Ueberroth speaks out on the important issues that face baseball today

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And then I was shown the need. Baseball had problems. And they were problems that were non-baseball problems—so that got me past the idea of "Gee, how could I be commissioner without experience in baseball?" Because all the problems were in areas where I had some expertise—economics, television...drugs.

FD: Do you think your fame has helped?

PU: No, I don't think so. In fact, I asked our press department recently to study the idea of the commissioner not giving any interviews during the baseball season, that maybe once the game begins, administrators should try and take a backseat. I have no [personal] p.r. agent. The Los Angeles Times records will show that I was almost never in their newspaper in the 17 years before the Olympics. So fame is not something I chase after. But it came, and too much. We were staying at a motel visiting our daughter down in Tennessee at college this weekend and there was a magazine in the hotel room with my picture on the cover, and I never was interviewed by that magazine at all. Where the magazine came from, I don't have any idea.

FD: When you came into the job, did you find anything that greatly surprised you?

PU: I found—but I have to preface this by saying it was not due to anyone's fault, but was the fault of the process—the financial situation much worse than what I [had] thought [it would be]. In fact, in some sense there was financial neglect.

FD: And this was the fault of the process?

PU: Yes, the process and not the individuals—and certainly not my predecessor. I was surprised by the high turnover in ownership. I was surprised to find so many teams for sale. I didn't think any was for sale, and my first day on the job, my closest friend in baseball, Bob Lurie, announced that his team, the Giants, was for sale. I was surprised at the disarray of television. There was going to be a premier game [between the Cubs and Padres during the NLCS last October] starting so late that it could have been called in the seventh inning due to darkness. And the superstations: I read debate and argument covering nine years, but nothing had been done about it.

FD: Do you ever say, "What am I doing here?"

PU: No, I don't think I say that more than once or twice a day.

FD: Your friend Bob Lurie once said that if you got all the owners a little bit mad at you, you'd be doing a good job. After six months, do you think that's true?

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