Nl's Coleman Views Baseball as Role Model

Article excerpt

Leonard Coleman, elected president of the National League in March by team owners, remains unknown to the average fan.

Coleman, 45, head of baseball's marketing staff the previous two years, made an impact in Cincinnati with his five-game suspension of outfielder Reggie Sanders for charging Montreal Expos pitcher Pedro Martinez after being hit with a pitch to break up a perfect game.

So, who is this new president? Coleman talks about his plans and hopes for the game:

Q. Complete this sentence: If there's one thing I'd like to accomplish as National League president, it's . . .

A. I'd do it in more than a sentence. In terms of fans, we want an exciting product on the field that they can be proud of and can relate to. We've got some tremendous young ballplayers and want our fans to be able to appreciate them.

Baseball has had an impact off the field and on. I look at some of the problems in our country with education, with getting children immunized. We have a role as, hopefully, a community citizen to help where we possibly can.

For example, I'm going to be at the White House discussing that with the president, who's going to unveil some immunization plans. We want to be part of that. The great thing about baseball is, hopefully, it will be a reciprocal relationship between society and the sport.

Q. So you look at baseball as a role model?

A. Absolutely. I think we need to be role models and try to encourage players to be such. In a sense, there are certain God-given talents and gifts, and it's up to us to share those.

Q. Do you look at baseball in the "It ain't broke, so don't fix it" category?

A. I think we want to be open-minded. In terms of management style, we've got to be seeking to do things better. We can't afford to sit back and enjoy the status quo.

If you look at the game of baseball . . . you don't want to tinker with it on the field. But any way you can enhance fans' enjoyment, you do that.

One of the things we're doing - I'll put on my marketing hat here - is the creation of Baseball Family Tours. People want to go around to the different parks. One of things we want to do is organize tours for families. …