- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"My bosses want me to have things that he doesn't have," Hagen said. King, silent, nodded in agreement.
"You're through as chapter chairman," Brown said. "Don't ever talk to me again."
"That would be my pleasure," Finocchiaro said. He turned his back to leave.
Brown, sprawled in a lounge chair, tossed his partly filled beer can at Finocchiaro. The can bounced at Finocchiaro's feet, and beer splashed onto the legs of his trousers. The last thing he heard—this is his version of the scene, and I have no reason to doubt it—was Brown saying, "Get out of here."
Finocchiaro, who had been on the beat since 1969, laughed off the incident. I was livid, bewildered, frustrated. I think I knew then that I would not be returning to the beat for a second year. Watching the games, writing them up for the next day's paper, that part I enjoyed. The rest of the time was dreadful. Brown had won.
Near the end of the season, Brown provided the Amigos with one final hoot. For a game story in early October, he changed his byline from Bill Brown to William Brown and began with these two paragraphs:
PHILADELPHIA—A clear and crisp autumnal evening, not quite the same festal October setting that will grace the league championship series later in the week, served as a pleasant enough atmosphere for the Phillies in their 7-6 triumph over the Chicago Cubs last night at Veterans Stadium.
The game, No. 160 on your handy but dog-eared pocket schedule, was supposed to have been played way back on April 3, when a huge opening-day crowd—perhaps as many as 45,000—would have flocked to the ballpark to cheer their pinstriped heroes and to partake in the traditional rites of fandom; to inhale the unique scent of stadium franks, to shell peanuts, to pass three hours in the facile timelessness that is the national pastime.
This was Brown as satirist, mocking my so-called style. Even the first half of my byline, Michael, was not acceptable to him. (Too long, too formal.) Brown's buddies loved the story. I can still hear their laughter in my ears, just as I can still feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I got through the playoffs and the World Series, where, by dint of an alphabetical seating chart, Brown and I sat elbow to elbow. Eight days after the final game, I was married. A honeymoon. The winter meetings. And I was gone.
To find a new beat man for the 1991 season, the sports editor went back to the newsroom and persuaded one of the Inquirer's best news reporters, Dick Polman, to take the job. Polman's purpose was the same as mine: to make the paper's baseball coverage more meaningful to the reader who was a fan but not a junkie. Brown, no doubt empowered by his experience with me, was brutal to him. In print Brown once described Polman as a "pencil-necked geek."