SI Vault
Gerald Holland
August 17, 1959
He has been called a busher, a brawler, a bully, a flop; an incomparable leader, a showman without peer, the purest genius of the sporting scene. Here begins the story—and the stories
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August 17, 1959

Who In The World But Larry?

He has been called a busher, a brawler, a bully, a flop; an incomparable leader, a showman without peer, the purest genius of the sporting scene. Here begins the story—and the stories

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"I was crouched down in the ramp leading to the dugout so the umpires wouldn't see me. Frank Crosetti, the coach, was at one end of the dugout, talking to the bullpen on the telephone, Harris was clear down at the other end of the bench. Crosetti was getting a report from Johnny Schulte, one of our other coaches, on the two pitchers who were warming up in the bullpen. Crosetti listened and then he yelled down to Harris, 'Schulte says Page hasn't got a thing and the Indian is knocking the glove off his hand!'

"Page," explained MacPhail, putting the back of his hand to his mouth for an aside, "was, of course, Joe Page, our great relief pitcher. If it hadn't been for Page we probably wouldn't even have gotten in the Series. The Indian was Allie Reynolds. Schulte was telling Harris that Page had nothing on the ball and that Reynolds was hot as a pistol."

MacPhail shook his head. "It was the most dramatic moment I had ever experienced in baseball. I held my breath as I waited to hear what Harris would do. Then Bucky turned around and saw me hiding in the ramp. He grinned and said, 'Well, boss, this probably means even more to you than it does to me. What do you say?' I said, 'Bucky, you've been calling them for 154 games and six games of the Series and I guess you call this one.' "

MacPhail went over to the other sofa and sat down. He let the drama sink in and then he said quietly, " Harris just nodded his head, and then he called down to Crosetti at the other end of the dugout."

MacPhail cupped his hands to his mouth (impersonating Bucky Harris) and yelled: "Give me Page!" He stared at me, calculating the effect of his story. He resumed:

"So Page came in, and for the rest of the game it looked like he was throwing aspirin tablets. We won 5-2. But what if they had knocked him out of there? The whole bench had heard Crosetti relay the message from Schulte that Page didn't have a thing. The story would have leaked out, and if we had lost on Harris' gamble, Bucky would have been a discredited manager and the second guessers would have had a field day. But Bucky Harris knew his Joe Page."

MacPhail got up and said, "Come here, I want to show you something." We walked into the dining room and he stopped before a buffet with a handsome silver service on it.

"Now I've been often criticized for running down to the clubhouse after that game and announcing my resignation. I'm frank to say it was a great mistake, even if it was an emotional mistake. I shouldn't have done anything to detract from the players at a joyful moment. They should have had all the headlines. Instead, next day the papers were filled with stories of how I had announced my resignation at the clubhouse celebration."

(The papers, alas, were filled with more than that. They reported, with eyewitness accounts, MacPhail's appearance at an evening celebration at the Hotel Biltmore in New York. He arrived, apparently in a mood to kidnap a kaiser, took a punch at John McDonald, who had been his traveling secretary with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and told George Weiss, the Yankee farm director, that he was fired forthwith.)

MacPhail gestured at the silver service on the buffet. "This is something that was sent to me months after my retirement. I've never seen anything like it, it must have cost six or seven thousand dollars. I treasure it above anything I have, except my family." He pointed carelessly to the big silver tray. "There's an inscription there." He turned and walked back toward the living room.

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