The Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has threatened to pickett or boycott Seattle Mariners baseball games if the team hires Al Campanis.
Campanis, 71, was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers last season following remakrs on the ABC's "Nightline" that suggested blacks lack certain qualifications necessary to hold front-office jobs in baseball.Mariners owner George Argyros acknowledged Thursday that he has considered hiring Campanis as a consultant to the team.
"Al and I have talked," Argyros said. "He is a friend and I respect him a lot as a baseball man with a lot to offer, but we are only considering a possibility of utilizing him in a consulting capacity."
Oscar Eason Jr. of the Seattle branch of the NAACP said the organization does not want Campanis taking any job with the Mariners, and that NAACP members might organize a boycott of Mariners' games or set up informational pickets outside the Kingdome if Campanis is hired.
"We're opposed to him coming to Seattle in any kind of capacity," Eason said. "For George Argyros to say he's being considered for any position at all is totally unacceptable.
"We're going to make sure he's unwelcome. This is something we certainly do not want to see. If he does (anything for the Mariners) it's going to create some problems between the black community and the Seattle Mariners."
Campanis' remarks on Nightline helped lead to a plan aimed at increasing the number of blacks in baseball front-office jobs. Each city with a major-league team was contacted by NAACP and asked to draw up an affirmative action plan. Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth also set up an office to increase minority hiring.
The Mariners recently hired Ethan Kelly, who is black, as the team's public relations director.
"I thought we had a pretty good relationship with them until this thing with Al Campanis came up," Eason said.
Argyros said any work Campanis might do for the team wouldn't begin until Woody Woodward, a former Philadelphia Phillies executive who replaced Dick Balderson as the Mariners' general manager Wednesday, is settled into his job.
"When Mr. Woodward comes aboard, I am sure he and Al will have some discussions," Argyros said.
If that happens, Eason said he wants a public discussion with Campanis about whether he has renounced his comments that blacks might not be qualified to be field managers or general managers in baseball.
"I haven't heard anything to indicate he's had a revelation that blacks are in fact capable of holding down administrative spots," Eason said.
Earlier, Argyros said he didn't anticipate making any immediate, wholesale changes in team management when Woodward arrives.
"We are bringing a new guy in and he'll be able to make any changes he wants, but he's not going to do anything until he gets a feel for things," Argyros said.