Schott is paranoid about being cheated. Reds policy is that she must sign any check over $50, and any purchase over that amount requires three bids before she'll agree to it. "That means even if you're reordering paper clips," says a former publicity employee, "you have to call around and get two more bids, even though you know exactly what you want already."
During the 1994-95 baseball strike Schott stopped having the Reds office bathrooms professionally cleaned, so some employees did the job themselves. She has been known to rummage through the trash barrels to make sure scrap paper is written on both sides. She eliminated free tissues for employees. She keeps the lights off whenever possible, extinguishing them when you leave your office just to walk down the hall. The hallway carpeting is so old and tattered that the seams are held together with duct tape. Schott wants the heat turned down to 55° at five o'clock, so some employees have been known to bring in their own space heaters. She does all of this at every place she owns.
No wonder, according to Bass, that male employees of Schott's occasionally ask her to sign a publicity shot for a "niece," then take it into the men's room, place it in the urinal and fire away.
Schott has eliminated the Reds' customer-service and community relations departments. Her private secretary became fed up with Schott and quit last spring, and for a year Schott answered her own calls rather than hire a replacement. The New York Post called last season to request head shots of the Reds' players, and after the playoffs Schott had a member of her staff call the newspaper and ask for them back.
"It's so crazy," she says. "You're spending millions and millions out on the field for these players, honey, and you find yourself arguing about envelopes and paper clips in the office. You try to cut on silly stuff. It's like Disneyland on the field and the real world in here."
"No," says one employee. "It's like Disneyland on the field and Bosnia in here."
Schott does have one of the major leagues' highest player payrolls—"They [Bowden and her other baseball advisers] con me into spending money on the players, honey," she says—though she has cut back this year and plans to make serious cuts next year. But just because she has had to purchase a Rolls-Royce doesn't mean she won't use the drive-thru window. Schott won't pop for video equipment to let players check past performances against certain pitchers and hitters. She won't pop for Cybex machines. She won't even pop for extra hats or sweatshirts. "Anything extra," says outfielder Davis, "we pay for ourselves."
Even when the glory comes, Schott does not seem to be able to pry open her pocket-book. When the Reds won the World Series in 1990, she didn't throw a party for them. Some of the players finally went out and brought back hamburgers.
To Schott, most of the players are just empty uniforms into which she pours money, and it sticks in her craw. One game in April, Cincinnati pitcher Mark Portugal gave up a line drive base hit. Watching from her front-row seat in the stands, Schott shook her head. "Three million dollars," she grumbled, apparently unaware that Portugal is earning $4.33 million this year, "and he's just not worth a damn."
Then there was this exchange during the same home stand in April, as she sat looking at the program in her luxury box, waiting for the coat-and-tied security director to come back from his walk with Schottzie.