Vincent, Fay

Vincent, (Francis Thomas, Jr.) Fay

(1938–  ) lawyer, baseball commissioner; born in Waterbury, Conn. An aspiring athlete, he suffered a back injury in college and was forced to pursue a more cerebral career. He took his law degree at Yale (1963) and practiced law in New York City and Washington, D.C. (1963–78). As a corporate lawyer, he moved over to become president and chief executive officer of Columbia Pictures Industries (1978–83) and head of Coca-Cola's entertainment division (1983–88). Invited in 1989 by his old friend A. Bartlett Giamatti to assist him as commissioner of baseball, on Giamatti's premature death Vincent was named commissioner (1989–92). A series of crises—including the earthquake in San Francisco that cast a shadow across the 1989 World Series; a spring lockout in 1990; the activities of Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner that led Vincent to suspend him—made Vincent unpopular with some team owners. After he unilaterally announced that some National League teams would be realigned in their divisions, he was asked in September 1992 to resign by a 18–9 vote of the owners. Although at first vowing to fight, he soon resigned and returned to private law practice, thereafter becoming a prominent commentator on broader public issues.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.