Nowhere in the stories written about Donald Fehr’s decision to step down as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association did it say that one of his assistants has very definite opinions on Danielle McCray’s game and how Aishah Sutherland’s athleticism helped the Kansas University women’s basketball team.
But it’s a fact. Steve Fehr, Donald’s younger brother and one of the key figures in maintaining baseball labor peace, not only is a fanatical backer of KU basketball and football, he really knows his stuff when it comes to Bonnie Ball as well. Steve and wife Cynthia are season-ticket holders for all three sports.
When he’s not busy saving baseball from a work stoppage, how closely does Steve Fehr follow Bonnie Henrickson’s team?
“I think Danielle is really, really good, who knows how good Angel (Goodrich) is going to be and obviously Sade (Morris) can play and I was really impressed with how Sutherland just seemed to change the game with her athleticism,” Fehr said by phone Tuesday from the Players Association offices in New York City.
“It really can be quite entertaining in light of the WNIT and it really is quite inexpensive entertainment,” said Fehr, who usually works out of his Kansas City office. “I would say most of my male friends think (his interest in the women’s team) is a little nutty and most of my female friends think it’s cute.”
The Fehrs became women’s hoops season-ticket holders the first year of the Henrickson era.
At the first game he attended that season, a ball went into the stands and he caught it.
“Bonnie was up arguing with the ref and I’m sitting there with the ball, (thinking), ‘Hey, does anybody want this?’ Then later that year I got Cynthia to go to a game and she really liked it,” said Fehr, a graduate of KU and KU’s Law School.
I recognized him from his work as a baseball labor lawyer and introduced myself to him at Allen Fieldhouse during a men’s game early in the 2005-2006 season. Since then, Fehr has e-mailed me opinions on football, basketball and women’s basketball. A week or two before Bill Self made the switch, Fehr suggested that Russell Robinson would be the team’s best fit at point guard. If I had it to do it over again, I would have taken the idea as my own, written a column on it and looked the genius.
Any suggestions for Self for next year’s team?
“No, I am going to trust him,” Fehr said. “I would not be presumptuous enough to try to tell him anything.”
Steve said he has no interest in succeeding his brother. That job will go to Michael Weiner. Asked what has made Steve most proud of Don during his nearly 26-year tenure in charge of the union, Steve said: “I think the fact that he’s been in a very public job for a very long time and nobody questions his integrity. I asked one of the top MLB officials to describe Don about a year ago. ‘Impeccably honest’ were the first words he used.”
Those words fit the kid brother too, but the first ones just as easily could be: “Jayhawk fanatic.”
“One of Cynthia’s standard jokes is that when she married me she converted to Judaism and KU basketball, but not necessarily in that order,” he said.