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Kuhn, 78, upbeat after bypass and more

11/2/2004 - Montreal Expos

Bowie Kuhn is home after heart surgery and planning to
attend the home opener of Washington's new major league baseball
team in April.

The 78-year-old former baseball commissioner had surgery Oct. 25
to repair a heart valve and bypass two arteries. He had another
operation two days later to receive a pacemaker and was released
Saturday from St. Luke's Hospital, Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville,
Fla.

"My doctor wants me to walk 60 minutes a day. I haven't quite
made that, but I'm getting close," he said Tuesday by telephone
from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Kuhn said he began to feel heavy chest pressure during a visit
to New York early last month. He went for tests Oct. 22.

"I've had an aortic valve problem all my life," he said. "It
was just a matter of time, if I lived long enough, for them to give
me a new one. I found out not only did I need a new aortic valve
but I probably needed a couple of bypasses. They said, 'Either you
do this or die.' "

Kuhn, commissioner from 1969 to 1984, said that he intentionally scheduled the operation for the off day during the World Series and that he was
able to watch Game 3 the next night. The first operation took
4½ hours, and on Wednesday, doctors informed him he needed the
pacemaker, requiring a 2-hour operation that day.

Commissioner Bud Selig called Kuhn and invited him and wife
Luisa to attend the first major league game back in Washington -- on
April 15, 2005. Baseball's schedule calls for the Expos, who plan to move
to the capital, to play their home opener against Arizona at RFK Stadium.

Kuhn worked the hand-operated scoreboard in the early 1940s at
Washington's Griffith Stadium during games of the original
Senators.

"I remember the meeting in September 1971 when we moved the
Senators," Selig said. "He tried desperately to find a buyer. It
broke Bowie's heart. I've never seen anybody fight for a city the
way he fought for Washington.

"I told him, 'I'd like you there, and we'll celebrate the
return of baseball.' I also said, kiddingly, 'I don't know if I'd
be able to get you a seat in the scoreboard to arrange numbers.' "

"You're the commissioner," Kuhn responded. "You ought to be
able to arrange those things."