Connie Mack: "A saint. Like some of the owners back then, he had to live by his wits. After I was fired, he and Clark Griffith handed in blank ballots rather than vote for Frick."
Del Webb, the Yankees owner: "The most refreshingly ignorant sonofabitch I ever met. If I'd been reelected, I was thinking about getting rid of him and he knew it. His partner was Dan Topping. He never carried anything heavier than a knife and fork in his whole life."
President Roosevelt: "Every time he said, 'My friends,...' a million suckers jumped up, and I never did understand that."
President Truman: "He wasn't even the best senator from Missouri. I don't know if he ever gave a damn about anything."
Bill Veeck: "An authentic baseball man. Unlike a lot of owners, if you caught him doing something tricky, he'd just go belly up and take what was coming to him. He understood. It was as simple as a goose going barefoot."
Satchel Paige: "He threw everything knee-high, and I always thought that's what you had to do to win. But I thought the best two pitchers I ever saw were Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove. I'da used Old Satch in relief and nobody would've ever got on base."
Leo Durocher: "People asked me if it wasn't hard suspending him for a year. But, hell, I signed 36 death warrants when I was governor, including two men they hung in the courthouse yard for rape. If you ask me, I was lenient on Durocher. He got paid that year. Branch Rickey asked me if he could keep on paying him, and I said sure, hell, it's your money. I met Durocher's second wife, a lovely little child named Grace Dozier, twice. First, she was pleading for him, and then I met her after Durocher'd been reinstated. That second time she just said, 'Governor, you knew he was an s.o.b. all the time, didn't you?' And I said, 'You said that, I didn't.' "
The Governor admired Durocher's boss, Branch Rickey, albeit with some large qualifications, notably those involving sanctimony. One time, though, all differences were aside, and they found themselves alone together. This was in 946, when the owners took a secret ballot after a meeting in Chicago. The vote was 5-, Brooklyn being the only club in favor of breaking the color line.
Forgotten sometimes in the murk of history is that Rickey was not the first owner to try to bring blacks into baseball. Veeck, for one, wanted to field a whole black major league team during the war. The Mahatma was simply the first to make the attempt after Judge Landis died. Landis was on record as not even allowing major league teams to barnstorm against Negro league teams in the off-season. It had been assumed that the Governor would continue this policy, and the 5- vote was largely for purposes of instruction.
"They made a damn big mistake," Happy says. "Sure, I'm a Confederate. My grandfather was second sergeant in Morgan's cavalry during the War Between the States. But, Pardner, there were a lot of other things."