Not that sheer Jell-O-headedness is always behind Schott's troubles. Many of her idiocies are clearly thought out in advance. For years she has made it known that she would prefer that the Reds not hire women of child-bearing age. Women in the workplace is not a cause Schott champions, despite the fact that she is one herself. (Besides the Reds, she owns two car dealerships, at least three vehicle-leasing firms, a concrete company and several other businesses in various states, not to mention a large chunk of General Motors stock, most of it under the control of her Cincinnati-based holding company, Schottco.) "I'll tell you something, honey," she says. "Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home to work." And: "Why do these girl reporters have to come into the locker room? Why can't they wait outside?" And: "I don't really think baseball is a woman's place, honey. I really don't. I think it should be left to the boys."
She despises the city ordinance that prohibits smoking at Riverfront, the one that keeps her sitting alone in her 20-chair luxury box instead of behind the dugout with the fans, whom she loves. Besides, Marge Vision doesn't see cigarettes as being all that bad. "I'll tell you something, honey," she says in her smoker's rasp. 'They had a jazz festival here awhile ago, and we walked around, and they were doing nothing but crack!"
Schott detests facial hair, too, and forbids it on any player or employee. The close, comfortable shave, she feels, is her lasting contribution to the game, even though it was a long-standing club policy that Cincinnati players not grow facial hair when she bought the team. "If nothing else, the thing I'm most proud of [about the Reds] is the no-facial hair and earrings," she said recently to Chip Baker, her one-man marketing department (by comparison, the Atlanta Braves' marketing department has 10 employees), even as she looked at a photo of the 1896 Reds, all of them bewhiskered.
"Don't you think, Chip?"
"Did Jesus have a beard, Chip?"
"I think so, Mrs. Schott."
"Oh." Pause. "Have you met our friend from Sports America here, honey?"
"Sports Illustrated, Mrs. Schott."