Talk about your long seasons! Today was a year in itself. My roomie [Lee Walls] started it off. I know damn well somebody had heard something. At breakfast we practically had Al Dark at third for tonight's game.
The roomie hit the sack leaving an unfinished crossword for me...can't permit that. I completed it, read the paper, listened to the radio until I sensed Walls would decide he no longer could sleep—then I turned it off. Having a roomie causes the most selfish notions to take control! He finally grumbled off to dress and said he'd meet me in the lobby to go out to Oakland. Had to have our hair cut "at the right shop, you know." He turned the bathroom over to me and went out. I had a chapter to go in Spectorsky's Exurbanites (still have) and I insisted on finishing it before I ate. He said, "ten minutes" and I said, "by three"; and continued to lie and read.
At 2:32 the phone rang. And tho I can't remember the exact time I was born, or married, or became a father, I have that minute imbedded forever in my memory. Holland (John Holland, general manager of the Chicago Cubs) said, "Will you come up to my room a minute?"...and I looked at my watch—2:32 p.m. E.D.T....and I knew I had been traded.
Between thinking how to let my roomie know where I was, and thinking what my wife would say, I really didn't think where I might be going. The sure sense of having been traded was in me, however. And, just as in the oft-repeated past when I was sent to another club, usually a lower league, I climbed the stairs wondering how I would say what I felt without ruining the man's regard for me.
That tableau of the next hour, and the memory of it, is hazy and slightly ridiculous. Holland's words "I don't know whether this is good news or bad news"...and "We appreciate all you've done for the organization," while probably well intentioned, were spoken like a poor actor at first rehearsal. The self-hypnosis about the Grand Nature of the Good American Game tends to delude the managers of baseball. They have relatively little influence on each working day. Neither do they throw, nor catch, nor hit, so how can they win? Yet they assume divine authority over their performers as if an inbreathing of their spirit will transform men. The "flesh peddling" is carried on daily, and the subconscious concern of man for his fellow creatures (be they simply ballplayers) creates a mental disturbance in baseball's bosses. For the player is an extension, inevitably, of the manager's own body. And the identification of Will and Instrument is so intimate a process that the release of a ballplayer by his manager must be a self-absolution. Mea Culpa, that I ever used you. Vale...never darken my conscience again....
My roomie showed a hurt concern and regret...we had reached a certain intimacy of men working deliberately together for a partly selfish, partly collective purpose. Other players smiled happily for me, and perhaps wondered that I showed less pleasure than they. I must remember not to laugh at the sweet sorrow that is supposed at parting. Yosh, the clubhouse boy, and Doc, the trainer, obviously were sorry, and together we were pitiably joyful at my "big break...." "You'll be glad"..."think of the future"...and damn the regrets. If I make more friends in baseball let them be as comfortably close to me as those two!
My wife cried via long distance from Chicago...for ten minutes...and after not being able to get on the plane, and being told to await the Cardinal arrival—I did, too...a little. Why me?
I watched the game today between the Cubs and the Pirates.... The Cubs won and I lost...for I wished them no luck. Drabowsky's fiancée was there and Moe asked me to sit with her during the game, a gesture unexpectedly pleasant. He did like me despite my treatment of him when he first joined the Cubs as my roomie. He must have felt my resentment of his status as a bonus player, and also of his obviously superior physical talent for the game. Despite my bitterness he always tried to be friendly. He'll be a success, I'm sure, and to him I wish good fortune. His girl loves him, and if he makes the most of that, what greater luck can a man have in any game?
After the game I ate at Carter's. Walls was there...with Dark. I sat down for coffee, and we talked for a while. Dark voiced the hope that we would not have a mutual wish for the other to have a bad year...just so the trade would look bad. I'll give it a try!