Derrel Thomas was fired recently as manager of the Boise Hawks in the rookie Northwest League. His dismissal probably would have gone relatively unnoticed had Thomas not been one of six blacks managing in the minors. His team's record was 9-28; he was making bad field decisions; and he wasn't communicating with his players.
"I guess it's like Al Campanis said," said Thomas. "Maybe I was the type of person he was talking about."
His firing had nothing to do with what the former Dodger vice-president for player personnel said in April on national television—that blacks might not have "the necessities" to manage. Thomas was a curious choice as a manager to begin with, but he was a friend of the man who hired him, Mal Fichman, general manager of the Hawks. As a player, Thomas was something of a flake—he was once discovered washing his car while a game was in progress.
No, his dismissal did not bring to mind the words of Campanis, but rather the words of Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. When told that Thomas would be a manager, Lasorda said, "I have lived long enough to see it all."
In the meantime, Tommie Reynolds, a black manager, has Modesto challenging for first in its division of the Class A California League. And Tom Spencer, another black manager, has Geneva leading its division of the Class A New York-Penn League.
TWO IF BY SEA
Of the two Frenchmen who set off across the Atlantic in very different vessels in June (SCORECARD, June 29), one has landed to a hero's welcome. Stephane Peyron journeyed 3,300 nautical miles—from New York City to La Rochelle, France—in 46 days aboard a 24-foot 6-inch sailboard, arriving on July 27. The 26-year-old windsurfer's most harrowing moment came nine days into the voyage when a cargo ship passed within three feet of his board, capsizing it.
The day after he landed, he set sail for his original destination, his hometown of La Baule, 100 miles northwest of La Rochelle. At La Baule, he was escorted to shore by an armada of colorful boats as hundreds waded into the Atlantic to greet him. During the ensuing parade through town, a young girl came up to him, kissed him and handed him a crepe, a regional speciality. Said Peyron, "Now I know I'm home."
Peyron's countryman, 28-year-old Guy Lemonnier, is still far from home. He set off in a rowboat from Cape Cod on June 20. As of Friday, averaging 65 miles a day, he was a little more than halfway across the pond. He needs to make approximately 45 miles a day until Sept. 1 in order to break the transatlantic rowing record. Lemonnier, who does not have a following boat either, has had some rough experiences. In the first week, he was hit by a fishing vessel, which broke one of his oars and badly gashed his hand. That slowed him, and the weather was awful for the first three weeks. But his hand has healed, the weather has cleared, and his spirits received a considerable boost when he ran into—big ocean, small world—the French salvage vessel heading for the Titanic off Newfoundland. Lemonnier spent a few hours with the crew before resuming his arduous journey.