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Umps go to labor board to try to save jobs

With unemployment less than a month away for one-third of its members, the umpires' union filed an unfair labor practice charge Tuesday against the American and National leagues.

Owners in turn filed a grievance against the umpires, saying their mass resignations violated their labor contract.

Many labor lawyers say the National Labor Relations Board is more likely to rule for the owners than the umpires. To the individual umpires about to lose their jobs, the legal maneuvers may be their final hope.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can to save my job," said an angry Bill Hohn, one of the 22 umpires notified last week that baseball had accepted their resignations effective Sept. 2.

Umpires want the NLRB to issue a complaint against owners that the agency could use to seek an injunction in federal court to prevent baseball from getting rid of the 22. The board is expected to decide on the charge in 4-6 weeks.

Lawyers for the umpires contend the July 14 decision to submit their mass resignations was "protected concerted action" under federal labor law and did not violate the provision in their labor contract stating "there shall be no strike nor other concerted work stoppage."

In baseball's first statement since the controversy began, commissioner Bud Selig, AL president Gene Budig and NL president Len Coleman said the charge had no merit.

RIPKEN DISABLED AGAIN: The Orioles placed 3B Cal Ripken on the 15-day disabled list for the second time because of back problems.

Ripken, who never had been on the disabled list before this season, received a cortisone shot to relieve irritation in his lower back. The 38-year-old third baseman left before Monday's game in Oakland to return to Baltimore for an examination. He was disabled retroactive to Sunday.

GOODEN TO DL: The Indians placed RHP Dwight Gooden on the 15-day DL a day after he pulled himself from a start with shoulder stiffness after 2 innings.

"I never really recovered from my last start," Gooden said. "I probably shouldn't have taken the mound."

BRAVES: C Eddie Perez was suspended for four games and manager Bobby Cox for two for their roles in a brawl Friday against the Phillies. Cox, who was ejected for the eighth time this season, was fined $5,000. Perez was fined $1,000, and RHP John Smoltz, who also was ejected, was fined $2,500. OF Otis Nixon was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to Thursday with a sprained neck.

CARDINALS: OF Darren Bragg was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Bragg will require reconstructive surgery.

CUBS: RHP Kerry Wood is playing catch for the first time since he had successful "Tommy John" surgery three months ago to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow.

PHILLIES: RHP Curt Schilling flew home to Philadelphia upon learning that his pregnant wife was hospitalized and missed his second straight start.