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Donald M. FehrDonald M. Fehr, BA’70

The department’s 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Donald M. Fehr, BA’70. Fehr, 61, majored in government at Indiana University

As executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the 61-year-old presided over three significant MLB work stoppages: a two-day midseason strike in 1985, a 32-day spring training lockout in 1990, and the seven-and-a-half month strike in 1994–95 that wiped out the World Series and delayed and shortened the following season. The past 14 years of his leadership have seen relative peace between players and owners.

The MLBPA is the collective bargaining unit for all active Major League players. Fehr began his career there as general counsel in 1977, and was formally elected as executive director in 1985. Under Fehr’s leadership, the average player’s annual salary rose from $289,000 in 1983 to more than $3.3 million this season. In 1966 the average yearly salary was $19,000.

In June 2009, Fehr announced he would retire as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association after 25 years of service. He will leave the post no later than March 31, 2010. “It has been a high privilege to be entrusted with the leadership of this extraordinary union for the last 25 years,” he says. “I am enormously proud of what the players have accomplished during that time.” In addition to serving as the players’ chief negotiator in collective bargaining with the Major League club owners, Fehr was responsible for administration of all other aspects of the MLBPA’s operations, including contract administration, grievance arbitration, and pension and health care matters.He oversaw an MLBPA staff that includes a group-licensing department and a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, the Players Trust.

Fehr has also played an important part in spreading the popularity of baseball beyond North America, including efforts to help create and develop the World Baseball Classic, the sport’s first World Cup-styled international tournament featuring active Major Leaguers. His international foresight played out in his role as one of eight Public Sector Directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1996 to 2003, appointed specifically to represent the interests of the American public in the activities of the USOC. Fehr earned his law degree at University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law in 1973. In 1991, the law school presented him its Alumni Achievement Award. He serves on Indiana University’s Dean’s Advisory Board.

Prior to joining the MLBPA, Fehr was associated with the Kansas City law firm of Jolley Moran Walsh Hager & Gordon, where, on behalf of the MLBPA, he successfully defended the landmark Messersmith-McNally free agency case before a federal appeals court.He receives perennial recognition as one of the most influential people in sports. Fehr and his wife, Stephanie, have four children. The Indiana Alumni Magazine profiled Fehr in its July/August 2004 issue. To read, visit: