After the 1985 season, Rader was hired to be the Chicago White Sox third base coach under La Russa (despite the fact that it had been Rader who had described the play of La Russa's division-champion Chisox in 1983 as "winning ugly"). "In my opinion, Tony La Russa is the best manager in the business, and he helped turn my whole career perspective around," says Rader. "First, he delegates authority brilliantly. Second, he made me understand that a manager should be sensitively aware of the feelings of all 24 players and five coaches who work for him, and he has to be aware of them every single day."
La Russa was dumped by Chicago general manager Ken Harrelson in the middle of the '86 season, but then Harrelson himself quit. In 1988 Rader worked as a scout for the Angels before Port gave him another shot at managing. "I know Doug, and how intelligent he is," says Port. "Intelligent people grow."
Rader is a voracious reader and has recently polished off a string of books ranging from James Michener's Alaska to Thomas McGuane's Panama to a Louis L'Amour novel to an anthropological novel about New Zealand. "Anything that makes my mind move," he says. At one time his favorite author was Ernest Hemingway, but Rader now disavows him, "because of the way he treated members of his family, and his insensitivity toward animals."
"Education is very important to my father," says Matt. "We dive together, we swim together, he encourages my baseball, comes to my wrestling meets, loves my surfing—but the school comes first. We're not a TV family. He's always creating mind games within the household that make everyone think."
Matt is an honor student at Martin County High in Stuart. In the middle of a conversation about his son's achievements, Doug suddenly turns the conversation to his daughters. "Every one of the kids is special at something," he says. "Matt is a tremendous student, but Christine and Elizabeth are tremendous, too. Every child is, fortunately, different."
Rader's own ongoing education, particularly the lessons he learned from La Russa about delegating authority, is evident in the way the Angels' pitching staff is now run: entirely by pitching coach Marcel Lachemann. Only once this season has Rader gone to the mound, and that was when Lachemann had a back injury. "Marcel knew what these guys could do and how to get them back doing it," says Rader. "He didn't care how bad they were last year [the second-worst ERA in the league]. He was right, too." Lachemann, Rader and bullpen coach Joe Coleman have stressed the positive to Blyleven (coming off a 5.43 ERA season), McCaskill (two years of arm trouble), Mike Witt and Chuck Finley. "When you have a couple of bad years, you start believing you must be bad," says Witt. "But Marcel and Doug kept saying, 'Hey, your stuff's good, you've won before.' Confidence is a tough thing to restore, but that's what they have done with me."
Rader has also restored postgame beer in the clubhouse after persuading the California management to lift its ban. "It's a way to keep people together after games," says Blyleven, "talking the game and sharing winning and losing. Before, guys were hurrying to get dressed and go home. That's all part of a team psychology, and Rader is a master of the psychological."
On the last day before the All-Star break, the Angels beat the Twins 9-3 to complete a three-game sweep that took them into the break in first place, 1½ games ahead of Oakland. A writer asked Rader to compare 1989 with 1983, reminding him that the Rangers were up two games at the break that season. Rader snapped, "This isn't 1983."
That night, he wrote in his journal, "Why should I be so defensive? Is that telling me I'm insecure? It wasn't the writer I lashed out at, but the insecurity. Why should I be insecure? I should have told him that this is a different time, a different place, a different team. I've got to watch that."
Still, the famed Rader rage has surfaced on occasion. On May 30, Milwaukee infielder Gus Polidor shouted at Rader after being hit by a pitch. Rader started out to the field toward Polidor in a fury before he was tackled by Lachemann. "I've never seen rage like that," says one player. "It was scary. But it also passed quickly."