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Donald Fehr  

Former Executive Director of the Major League Players Association

Donald Fehr joined the MLBPA as general counsel in August of 1977 and was named executive director in December of 1985. Prior to joining the Association, Don was associated with the Kansas City law firm of Jolley, Moran, Walsh, Hager & Gordon, where, on behalf of the MLBPA, he worked on the landmark Messersmith-McNally free agency case.

As executive director, Don served as the players’ chief negotiator in collective bargaining with Major League owners, and had general responsibility for administering the other aspects of the MLBPA’s activities, including contract administration, grievance arbitration, and pension and health care matters. In 1990, he successfully negotiated the $280 million settlement of the free agency collusion cases.

“Donald Fehr is the executive director of the baseball players union. Over 26 years, he has presided over the game’s boom in revenue and the bust of its recent steroids scandal. On June 22, 2009, he announced that he would retire no later than March 31, 2010.

Often described as his industry’s most powerful man through much of the 1990s and beyond, Fehr guided the players through several contentious work stoppages – none more so than the 1994 strike that canceled the World Series and lasted through the next spring training. He also led the union as it proved ownership had colluded to stifle the free-agent market in the late 1980s, and won $280 million in damages.

Average player salaries increased from $289,000 in 1983 to $3.24 million this year. Fehr also represented the players in negotiations with ownership over franchise expansion, interleague play and new playoff formats, all of which helped revenue expand at fantastic rates.

A Kansas City A’s fan while growing up in the suburb of Prairie Village, Kan., Fehr graduated from Indiana University and Missouri-Kansas City Law School. His work in baseball began in 1976, soon after an arbitrator invalidated the reserve clause which tied players in perpetuity to their teams – forever known as the Messersmith decision.

Fehr successfully represented the players in the owners’ appeal in federal court, and was hired by the union soon afterward. He was promoted to executive director in 1983, after a failed transition from Marvin Miller to the former federal mediator Kenneth Moffett.” –The New York Times

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