Grebey, former MLB labor leader, dies at 85

Grebey, former MLB labor leader, dies at 85

Grebey, former MLB labor leader, dies at 85

Ray Grebey, who led Major League Baseball labor negotiations during the strike that interrupted the 1981 season, died last week at the age of 85, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Grebey's son, Clarence R. Grebey III, said his father -- who died on Aug. 28 in Stamford, Conn. and was honored at a memorial mass on Wednesday -- had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in late July.

After spending 20 years at General Electric Co., Grebey was hired by baseball owners in 1978 to succeed John Gaherin as MLB's chief labor neogotiator. Grebey was an integral part of a difficult time period for the sport, leading negotiations in multiple work stoppages, most notably the 50-day strike that split the '81 season.

"Ray was a professional who had a decorated career in labor relations, spanning challenging tasks not only in baseball but many different industries," Commissioner Bud Selig said, according to the Associated Press report. "It is my hope that he was proud of the labor peace that the game now enjoys."

In 1980, players struck for the final eight days of Spring Training, resulting in the cancellation of 92 exhibition games. The two sides avoided any regular season stoppage, however, and agreed in May to a four-year contract that allowed the issue of free agent compensation to be revisited the following season.

It was in that '81 campaign that players again struck, marking the first midseason work stoppage in Major League history. The strike started on June 12 and the sides did not reach an agreement until July 31, resulting in the cancellation of 713 games in the process.

Grebey left the sport in '82 to assume a vice president position with Pan American World Airways. He then went on to spend time with US Airways Group Inc. from 1992-97 and was later hired as the chief labor negotiator for the City of Stamford.

A graduate of Kenyon College, Grebey furthered his education with an MBA degree from the University of Chicago and also later served in Korea as a member of the United States Army.

Grebey is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn Isett Grebey, as well his aforementioned son and two daughters, Nancy Grebey and Chris Grebey.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.