PU: Yes. Any problem that arises in sports, baseball included, that has to do with gambling, will probably be drug-related. Mays and Mantle worked for licensed casinos. A recognized licensed casino that is legally doing business would be the last institution to try and misuse a player.
FD: You face a potential problem if the government refuses to allow companies to write off the purchase of sports tickets as a legitimate business expense. What percentage of major league ticket revenues comes from companies?
PU: Forty-six percent. That's all kinds of companies, hundreds of little companies included. [If such a law were passed,] it would be very damaging to baseball and to sports. Very damaging.
[Ueberroth discussed the problem in Washington last week with Secretary of the Treasury James Baker.]
FD: Now, as to television, you have taken charge of a runaway situation by having teams that show games on superstations compensate all the other teams.
PU: Yes. I think we returned the control of our destiny to baseball. Until then, the superstations were doing what they wanted to do. [However, baseball has not yet reached an agreement with the Cubs, who also show their games nationally on cable.]
FD: Fine, but does this perhaps presage some kind of deal whereby teams will have to give up a portion of their home television to the visiting team? If someone like Edward Bennett Williams in a small market like Baltimore says, "Ted Turner is keeping people from going to my park, and I'm paid for it," he could also maintain that when he comes to New York, George Steinbrenner's television keeps fans home, so he should be paid compensation for that, too.
PU: I don't see that happening. We've done the numbers on that, and it's not a major issue.
FD: A few quick questions. How about interleague play?
PU: We're going to address that in an in-depth national survey conducted by a prominent firm. Anyone surveyed will sit down for 30 mintues and answer a lot of questions. It's not going to be passed out at the ballpark. Interleague play has drawn a lot of interest from some owners and some players' groups. It ought to be something that we can talk to the Players' Association about.