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George Nicolau, Arbitrator in Baseball’s Collusion Cases, Dies at 94

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“They didn’t have to play him, but they had to pay him,” Mr. Nicolau said in an oral history interview for the National Academy of Arbitrators in 2006. “King was then alcohol dependent He went to rehab; he became the comeback player of the year” with the Golden State Warriors.

Mr. Nicolau was noted for the clarity of the writing in his opinions.

“Some arbitrators just write, ‘Here’s what the players say,’ ‘here’s what the owners say’ and ‘here’s what I have to say,’” Gene Orza, the baseball union’s former chief operating officer, said by phone. “But George told narratives in a very erudite way.”

The owners dismissed Mr. Nicolau after nine years, saying that they wanted someone with a fresh perspective. He had served longer than any of his predecessors.

Tony Clark, the baseball union’s executive director, said in a statement that Mr. Nicolau had “helped preserve the integrity of free agency.”

In addition to Mr. Oppenheimer, Mr. Nicolau is survived by two sons, Brien and Tony; a stepdaughter, Trudy Oppenheimer; another stepson, David Oppenheimer; and six grandchildren. His wife, Siobhan (Caffrey) Nicolau, died in 2013. A previous marriage, to Sheila O’Brien, ended in divorce.

John Oppenheimer said that his stepfather was working on arbitrations until nearly the end.

“He was most proud when he could save or help one human being at a company get a fair shot,” Mr. Oppenheimer said by phone. “In his last case, a guy was fired; the union brought the case and said, ‘You can’t do that,’ and George got him his job back.”



Source Site> NewYorkTimes

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