Francis T. Vincent, Jr., Eighth Commissioner of Baseball, Elected: 1989-92
Francis T. Vincent, Jr. was elected baseball's eighth Commissioner in a unanimous vote of major league owners on September 13, 1989. Vincent, who five months earlier was named the first Deputy Commissioner of Major League Baseball, succeeded A. Bartlett Giamatti, who died in office September 1, 1989. Vincent was elected to complete Giamatti's five-year term which began on April 1, 1989.
Vincent was born on May 29, 1938 in Waterbury, Connecticut. After attending The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, Vincent graduated with honors from Williams College in 1960 and received his law degree from Yale in 1963.
Upon graduation from Yale, Vincent became an associate in the New York law firm of Whitman and Ransom. He was named a partner in the Washington, DC law firm of Caplin and Drysdale in 1968, where he specialized in corporate banking and securities matters. It was during this time that Vincent also served as Associate Director of the Division of Corporate Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
In 1978, Vincent was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Pictures. Following the acquisition of Columbia by the Coca-Cola Company in March 1982, Vincent was appointed Senior Vice President of the Coca-Cola Company and President and CEO of its Entertainment Business Sector. He was promoted to Executive Vice President of the Coca-Cola Company in April 1986, and was responsible for all of the company's entertainment activities.
As Deputy Commissioner, Vincent played a pivotal role in the investigation of gambling allegations against Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader. Based on findings of the investigation, Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from professional baseball.
On October 17, 1989 when Vincent had been in office only one month, the San Francisco Bay area was struck with a massive earthquake, disabling the City of San Francisco and post-postponing the World Series between the Giants and Athletics. Vincent presided over events at the World Series and, after meeting with city officials, announced that the World Series would resume on October 27.
The remainder of Vincent's term was marked by turmoil. With the players locked out of spring training, Vincent entered negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in February 1990, after talks between the two parties had stalled. A settlement was reached on March 18, some 32 days into the spring training schedule. Due to the lockout, Opening Day was delayed one week to provide adequate time for spring training, but the settlement ensured that a full slate of 162 regular- season games could be played.
Baseball saw the addition of two new National League teams during Vincent's tenure, bringing the number of Major League Baseball franchises to 28. In the first expansion since 1977, baseball announced that Denver, Colorado and Miami, Florida had been granted expansion teams that would begin play in 1993. In June 1991, Vincent declared that the American League would receive $42 million of the National League's $190 million in expansion revenue and that the AL would provide players in the National League expansion draft. This decision marked the first time in expansion history that leagues were required to share expansion revenue or provide players for another league's expansion draft.
Vincent's term as Commissioner ended when he resigned on September 7, 1992.