MLB History: Fay Vincent Forced Out as Commissioner

Fay Vincent was not the owner’s choice as MLB Commissioner in the first place. On this day in 1992, they voted him out of office.

Fay Vincent, despite serving as the Commissioner of the MLB for a little over three years, had quite the tumultuous tenure. The Deputy Commissioner when A. Bartlett Giamatti died unexpectedly due to a heart attack, he stepped into office and proceeded to have quite a few crises to handle. Through the earthquake interrupting the 1989 World Series, to banning Steve Howe and George Steinbrenner, to setting up expansion for the 1993, season, Vincent made quite a mark on the game.

However, the owners were not exactly enamored with the new Commissioner. A baseball purist, he believed that the tradition and purity of the game were of the utmost importance, and was not afraid to rule with an iron fist if need be. This alienated the majority of the owners, who on this day in 1992, voted 18-9 to demand his resignation from office.

This vote of no confidence came about from his part in the lockout during 1990. Although the entirety of Spring Training was lost, Vincent managed to keep a full season that year. yet, the demanded salary cap did not come into being, and minimum salaries increased, much to the owner’s chagrin. Add his handling of Howe and Steinbrenner, and Vincent was forced out, leading to Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig taking over as Commissioner.

Although Vincent’s tenure is not looked back upon in a positive light, that may be a mistake. He did keep labor peace during a time of increased tensions, and after the Pete Rose scandal, did his best to promote the integrity of the game. He may have come across as high handed, a disciplinarian who fired first and thought later, but he was thrust into that situation by the circumstances.

Likewise, the complaints that the MLB was losing money, and ratings, were not Vincent’s fault. CBS, who had spent $1.2 billion to broadcast games, scheduled them randomly on Saturday, causing fans to become frustrated with the network. A consistent schedule may have minimized that impact, but the blame was laid at the feet of Vincent.

Fay Vincent made a lot of enemies during his time as MLB Commissioner. Yet, all things considered, he did a pretty solid job with the situation he found himself in.

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