The Boston Park Baseball League opens its 58th season Tuesday after resolving allegations that the organization is guilty of racial bias.
After pressure was applied by Mayor Flynn’s administration, the senior amateur league voted to accept the primarily minority Padres. A condition of acceptance was that Padre manager Ed Neal apologize for making his charges of bias.
Neal had accused the league of denying his Padres a spot in the 1987 alignment because of bias. He noted that it had been traditional for the winner of the junior league — in this case, the Padres — to move up to the senior league, with the senior league’s last-place team being demoted to the junior league.
However, Park League president John Landry said Neal was present at the announcement of the league’s decision in March 1986 and did not dispute it.
Landry said that before last season began, league officials announced that the last two finishers in the then 11-club league would be cut to reduce the size of the league to nine in order to keep expenses under control after Budweiser announced it was withdrawing as primary sponsor. Landry said officials also voted not to accept the 1986 champion of the junior league into the senior league under a one-year moratorium.
Although there are only 10-15 minority players among the 200 now playing in the senior league, Landry denies his organization is guilty of bias.
“I’ve asked Mr. Neal to come forward with any proof that minority players have ever been turned away by the Park League,” Landry said. “He hasn’t responded to my challenge.”
Paul Barrett, a spokesman for Flynn, said the city once again will take over as Park League sponsor. “We’ve informed league officials that we’ll appropriate $15,000 to defray expenses for umpires, miscellaneous equipment, publicity releases and banquet trophies,” Barrett said. “It’s a great tradition, and we’re glad we can sponsor it again. The city was unable to help the league for several years because of Proposition 2 1/2.”
Neal said he has no intention of submitting further apologies. “I’ve made my last statement about the matter,” he said. “Let’s play ball.”
Copyright © 1987 Boston Globe, all rights reserved. Written by Neil Singelais.