His players didn't drink water during practices or games, and they didn't wave at their friends in the stands. They didn't stay out past 10, and they didn't go to dances, because dances could lead to the kind of scoring their coach considered a distraction. "My dad kicked his two best players off the football team one year because they'd gone to a dance at another school," Bailey Santistevan Jr. says. "Rules were rules, even if it cost him the championship." And it did.
The father was tougher still on his only son, the strapping kid who became an entomologist and now, at 71, lives in retirement in Murrieta, Calif. Bailey Sr. booted Bailey Jr. square in the butt for not wearing socks to football practice, made him play fullback with a dislocated shoulder and pulled him from a baseball game in which it looked as if he would strike out every batter. Their relationship finally boiled over when Bailey Jr. heard his father say no to the New York Yankees' scout who wanted to sign the boy in 1945.
"My dad wouldn't even look at the contract," Bailey Jr. recalls. "He just said, 'This boy's going to college.' Well, I got upset and joined the Marine Corps. I taught him a lesson." The sad expression on Bailey Jr.'s face as he tells the story says it was no lesson at all. His sister Nanette, a retired educator back in Salt Lake Valley, finds the words to go with the memory: "It broke my father's heart."
Bailey Santistevan the elder really did have a heart, no matter how hard he drove his son and every other son of the canyon. His heart was on display every time he sat down to mend a torn ball or a broken bat, but it didn't stop with that. There were the letters he wrote faithfully to the Bingham boys fighting World War II, and the balls he gave to kids from all over, and the 50-cent pieces Bailey Jr. once saw him press into the hands of two scared, penniless, not-so-tough guys fresh from Salt Lake's juvenile detention center. "He never spanked his own kids, either," Nanette says. "My mother did."
What's more, Santistevan had some very public moments of vulnerability, usually when he got so wrapped up in coaching that he forgot about his diabetes and went into insulin shock. "He'd start acting like he was drunk," Gust says. "It scared the hell out of you the first time you saw it happen." But after that, his players knew what to do. They raced to his duplex next to the school, where his wife, Edith, always kept a pitcher of orange juice laced with sugar. As soon as he got that in him, Santistevan would be back to normal. Normal by his standards, that is.
So let's assume his insulin level was where it belonged that day in 1950 when Bingham was down two runs in the state championship baseball game, and Gust was coming to bat with the bases loaded. Here was the perfect man for the situation: the Miners' cleanup hitter, a slugging shortstop who would go on to sign with the Detroit Tigers for $3,000 when that was a fat bonus. But Santistevan called Gust over for a confab, and the first thing he told his star was, "I don't think you want to hit today."
"Yes, I do," Gust said.
"No," Santistevan said, "I better get somebody out there who wants to hit."
"But I want to hit," Gust said. On and on they went, until Gust was so cross-eyed with rage that he was ready to chew his bat down to a toothpick. Then Santistevan walked away, and Gust hit the triple that proved they had both done their jobs.
By now you don't need to be told who used to say that the winners walk on Main Street and the losers walk in the alleys. The credo exerted more than a little pressure on Bailey's boys for the simple reason that the only street in the canyon was Main Street. It snaked for three miles, from the French enclave called Frogtown at the bottom to the copper mine at the top. Main was scarcely more than 20 feet at its widest, just enough for two cars to squeak past each other, and it was always fodder for the wits who insisted that dogs in the canyon had to wag their tails up and down.