Originally created 07/20/02

Carter volunteers to help mediate



ATLANTA -- Former President Jimmy Carter would gladly help mediate the labor dispute between baseball players and owners.

Carter, an avid fan who often attends Atlanta Braves games, made a similar offer in the midst of the 7 1/2 -month strike in 1994-95 that wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Owners and players ignored the offer, instead continuing to use former Labor Secretary W.J. Usery to mediate those talks, which failed to lead to an agreement. That strike didn't end until a federal judge issued an injunction restoring the work rules from the previous deal, finding that owners had committed unfair labor practices.

Carter said he hoped the sides, trying to replace the agreement that expired Nov. 7, could work out their differences themselves or with the help of a government mediator.

"If all of those options run out and baseball is endangered again, I would be glad personally to volunteer my services," Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But that's going to come way down the line and I hope it's not necessary."

Players are threatening baseball's ninth work stoppage since 1972, fearing that if they don't strike, owners will attempt to change work rules or lock them out after the postseason. Players are considering various strike dates starting with mid-August.

Negotiators from both sides were met again Friday, with three more sessions planned for next week.

During Carter's presidency, players struck the final eight days of spring training in 1980, forcing cancellation of 92 exhibition games.