Twins seek Supreme Court hearing by Dec. 7

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Lawyers for major league baseball and the Minnesota Twins asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to reverse a judge's order that forces the team to play next season.

The appeal claims the injunction keeps owners "from controlling the destiny of the sport."

"It is true, of course, that many Minnesotans do not want to lose the Minnesota Twins," the papers said. "They do not want the Twin Cities to become 'a cold Omaha.' But this is not a legally sufficient reason to force a private business to stay in business."

The appeal was filed just hours after ex-Twins Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Harmon Killebrew and Bert Blyleven pleaded with an 18-member government task force to do all it can to keep the Twins in the state.

"I can't imagine what I would do if the Twins weren't here," said Puckett, who became Minnesota's executive vice president of baseball after glaucoma forced his retirement in 1996. "Baseball touches all of our lives. It brings us together. It always has. It always will."

Baseball owners voted Nov. 6 to fold two teams next season, and commissioner Bud Selig was contemplating calling another owners meeting for Nov. 27 in Chicago, a high-ranking team executive said on the condition he not be identified.

Although the teams to be eliminated weren't identified, the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins are the likeliest to go. Twins owner Carl Pohlad, claiming years of financial losses, is willing to lose his team.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the Metrodome, filed suit, claiming the team must fulfill its lease to play in the ballpark next season, and District Judge Harry Seymour Crump issued a temporary injunction last Friday.

"This is a national decision that can be made only by major league baseball, and the Hennepin County District Court, with all due respect, is not empowered to second-guess this decision," the Twins and baseball said in their appeal.

Roger Magnuson, the lawyer for the team and commissioner Bud Selig, hopes to bypass the Court of Appeals and take the case directly to the Supreme Court. Short of that, he wants the appellate panel to act fast.

He asked the Supreme Court to schedule oral arguments by Dec. 7, noting that it is a deadline for free agents.

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