NEW YORK -- Gene Orza will retire from the baseball players' association next spring after 26 years with the union.
Orza, whose sometimes abrasive negotiating style irritated management as the No. 2 official to Donald Fehr, announced his retirement Tuesday. He will work through March 31.
Fehr retired as union leader last year and was succeeded by Michael Weiner.
The 64-year-old Orza was hired as associate general counsel in 1984 and was promoted to chief operating officer six years ago. He helped lead the union through a two-day strike in 1985, a 32-day lockout in 1990 and a 7½-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years.
Orza was the union's point man on drug matters in recent years, helping negotiate the 2002 joint drug agreement, and he was heavily involved in the creation of the World Baseball Classic.
"Each day since Don Fehr's resignation has only served to reaffirm just how fortunate the players are to have a person like Michael to succeed him," Orza said in a statement. "It's simply time for the old to make way for the new. And what better time than now?"