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December 08, 1989 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

Greenberg
hits one
for Denver
in 1972.

RICHARD PEARL

Staff Writer

1 1

t was his father's in-
fluence that made him
a professional baseball
player, but it was
"dumb luck" that made
him a baseball player's agent.
And it is a friendship bas-
ed on mutual respect that
has led Stephen D.
Greenberg, son of Detroit
Tiger legend and Hall of
Famer Hank Greenberg, to
become only the second man
— and the first Jew — in
baseball history to hold the
title of deputy commissioner,
the position to which he ac-
cedes on Jan. 1.
He was named to the role
Nov. 1 by Francis T. (Fay)
Vincent, Jr., who had held
the job himself until being
elected baseball commis-
sioner following the death
this fall of A. Bartlett
Giamatti. Both Vincent and
Giamatti had known
Greenberg for a number of
years — Vincent as chair-
man of the board of trustees
of the Hotchkiss prep school,
on which Greenberg serves;
and Giamatti as Greenberg's
English instructor during
his sophomore year at Yale.
Greenberg, who had been
invited by Giamatti to New
York only four days before
the commissioner's fatal
heart attack, is a managing
partner in a 120-member Los
Angeles law firm and head
of its sports law department.
Vincent said he is "very
fortunate to have Steve
Greenberg join me as deputy

58

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1989.

Dad Would Be Proud

Steve Greenberg, son of the Tiger legend,
brings a new perspective to the
commissioner's office.

commissioner and chief
operating officer," adding
that he and Giamatti "had
often talked of bringing
Steve to baseball."
Citing Greenberg's
lifelong involvement with
the sport through his father,
his own minor league career
and as a players' agent, Vin-
cent said in his formal an-
nouncement that the new
deputy "is a fine person of
high achievement and
equally high character. I
know he will be a great
partner for me as we move
toward the important
challenges that lie ahead."
"I've known Fay eight or
nine years," said Greenberg.
"He's a mentor of mine. He's
a brilliant, very compas-
sionate and decent human
being. It's a tremendously
motivating chance to work
with him.
"It's absolutely exciting
and challenging profes-
sionally to be taking this
position."
Greenberg said his father,
the Tigers' great first
baseman who finished his
career as general manager of
the Indians in Cleveland,

where Steve grew up, "was
an influence on my life gen-
erally. "He was definitely an
influence on my life to
become a pro baseball
player. But it was just dumb
luck that I became a player's
agent."
That bit of luck happened
around 1977, when
Greenberg graduated from
the University of California-
Los Angeles law school.
Greenberg, who earlier
had captained Yale's
baseball team and was a
soccer All-American, had
played in the Texas Rangers
farm system from 1970 to
1974. In 1975, free agency
gave baseball players
greater control over their
destinies and salaries, and
by 1977, Greenberg, as a
new corporate lawyer, was
being sought as counsel by
several ex-fellow minor
leaguers.
"It was just a case of being
in the right place at the
right time," said Greenberg,
who went on to represent
Matt Nokes of the Tigers,
Mark Langston, Bill
Madlock, Eric Show, Ron
Robinson, Terry Leach and

Bobby Meacham.
Although he's not sure
how much input he will have
in baseball's management-
player talks — a new con-
tract is due before the start
of next season — Greenberg
said his presence may "add a
perspective and understan-

Steve Greenberg:
Moving toughest.

ding from the players' and
union's point of view" and
"might add an element of
communication."

His duties will primarily
be business-oriented, deal-
ing largely with television
packaging, and so he is "not
sure how extensive my role
will be, if at all," in negotia-
tions with the Players
Association. But "I hope
that my background can br-
ing to any meeting a
different perspective than
baseball has had. It can be a
healthful sort of thing. After
all, if there is no com-
munication (between owners
and players), then the two
sides can't explore what the
differences are."
The toughest part of
becoming baseball's new
deputy commissioner, said
Greenberg, has been getting
the family to go along with
it. "It's a tough time to
move," particularly for his
two daughters, Jennifer, 15,
and Melanie, 11, who are
both active in theatre.
Melanie also plays soccer
and her father has coached
her team.
But Greenberg was born in
New York City — as was his
father — and knows the
town, and that has helped
rally wife Myrna and the
girls. "We're all enthusiastic
now," he said. "It's a terrific
opportunity for me and also
for my family to experience a
totally unique situation."
Greenberg, who has been
active in his synagogue and
in Jewish charitable func-
tions, said he knows his
father, who died in 1986,
would approve.
"I can't help but feel my
dad would be proud of me,"
he said.

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