Baseball federation to vote on new president Friday

Updated: February 28, 2007, 1:34 PM ET
Associated Press

BEIJING -- Harvey Schiller and Reynaldo Gonzalez are making the same campaign promise: They'll work to get baseball back in the Olympics.

The former Turner Sports head and the Cuban hope to be elected president of the International Baseball Federation, which votes Friday. Aldo Notari of Italy, who held the job for 13 years, died last July.

By choosing Beijing as the venue for its vote, the IBAF is hoping to raise the sport's profile in the host city of the 2008 Olympics.

The IOC voted in 2005 to drop baseball after the 2008 Games. Softball was also cut, but both could be reinstated by the IOC as early as 2009 for the 2016 Olympics.

IOC president Jacques Rogge has said baseball needs to toughen its anti-doping rules, and ensure that the top players compete in the Olympics. Major League Baseball doesn't allow players on major league rosters to go to the Olympics but does allow teams to send players from the minors.

Schiller said having a slightly shorter Olympic baseball tournament might help.

"We have talked about this with the professional leagues," he said. "They seem willing to do more to get baseball back in the games. You have to tell your story, and you have to do it right."

A third candidate, Theo Reitsma of the Netherlands, reportedly withdrew from the race. Reitsma is a TV sports commentator who was president of the Dutch baseball and softball federation.

"People are saying that he has dropped out, but we have not seen the official letter yet," IBAF spokesman Enzo Di Gesu said.

Tom Peng of Taiwan has been acting president since Notari's death. The new president will serve out the remainder of Notari's term, which ends after the 2008 Olympics.

Schiller is a former secretary general of the United States Olympic Committee and chairman of YankeeNets, and Gonzalez has been an IOC member since 1995.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press