Among other things, Brown disliked Polman's penchant for wearing blue jeans, which was odd because Brown often wore dungarees himself. Polman had four or five pairs of Levi's in circulation, but Brown convinced the players that Polman wore the same pants every day, and before long Polman's jeans had become a clubhouse joke. In a column Brown referred to Polman as Dick Slacksman.
More than once Brown sat in the press box in the vicinity of Polman and chanted, "Slacksy, Slacksy, he never changes his drawers." One day Brown knew that Polman had plans to fly on the team's chartered plane. Polman was wearing his customary dungarees, unwittingly violating the Phillies' travel-day dress code. Brown went up to Fregosi, the manager, and told him he should stop Polman from getting on the plane at the airport. Fregosi—highly personable, very manipulative—loved this sort of thing. He once said, only half jokingly, that if the writers were fighting among themselves they couldn't fight with him. He agreed with Brown: Polman would not get on the plane in dungarees. Before trying to board, Polman received some counterintelligence. Finocchiaro tipped him off to the plot against him. Polman found a pair of khakis, and the event Fregosi and Brown imagined was thwarted.
Polman, like me, lasted only a year with the Phils. He left to escape Brown and to cover a presidential election.
But Brown never lacked for whipping boys. Gene Dias, who worked in the Phillies' public relations department, was one of his favorite targets. Dias didn't react until one day in April 1992 in Chicago, when he was pushed too far.
On this day, in the cramped, quiet press box of Wrigley Field, with the windows closed, Brown went into a diatribe. Ostensibly addressing his fellow Philadelphia writers, he asked loudly, "Hey, does Kyle Abbott have a 3-0 record?" In the Phillies' pregame notes, prepared by Dias, the Philadelphia pitcher was listed as having won his first three decisions. "I'm sure he'd like to be 3-0," Brown said.
Dias was sitting immediately behind Brown and next to the Chicago Cubs' public relations staff. "Sorry," Dias said. "I made a mistake." Abbott was 0-3.
"You know, every once in a while I think about actually referring to these notes," Brown said to his press box neighbors. "But then I realize how worthless they are."
"I made a mistake," Dias repeated.
"If I made mistakes like the mistakes in this thing, you know what would happen? I'd be fired."
Dias had had enough. "That," he said, "would make a lot of people happy."