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There is nobody like MacPhail. There is nobody who is even remotely like Leland Stanford (Larry) MacPhail.
Who but MacPhail could rampage through major league baseball like the snout of a tornado, take two ball clubs that were in hock to the bankers and put them on their financial feet, build pennant-winning ball clubs in both leagues and win a world championship in one? Argue reluctant club owners into adopting night baseball and then battle just as hard to keep them from overdoing it? Turn on the lights of a ball park at 3 o'clock in the morning for a game of rounders with sportswriters? Force lighting engineers to accept his theories about how to illuminate a ball park? Punch a newspaperman and then persuade him to join his staff as director of public relations? Select the elevator of a Cincinnati hotel as the place to slug it out with a police sergeant? Turn his back on it all after the New York Yankees had won the World Series in 1947 and pocket a check for $2 million, parlayed in three years from a personal commitment of $500,000?
Who but MacPhail could take a rundown farm and a crumbling house and build them into a 1,000-acre estate that is now one of the show places of Maryland? Who, in his middle 50s, could sink a fortune in the riskiest of businesses, the breeding of prize cattle and Thoroughbred horses, and make the venture pay from the start? Who, a Johnny come lately among breeders, could go to Saratoga and set one of the alltime highs with yearling sales totaling $666,700?
Who, in his new role of horseman, could become president of the Bowie race track, rebuild it from top to bottom and then be barred from even entering the premises? Who could thereupon take the track officials to court, sue them for breach of contract and win and collect a judgment of $99,971.10?
Who could be hauled off to jail for cop-fighting and turn up in the headlines again, not long afterward, as co-chairman of a drive to save the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra? Who could startle his staid Maryland neighbors by suing his new home county of Harford, force it to repave a road leading into his property and then name the road after him? Who could sit in the quiet of his own living room far out in the country, get in an argument with a telephone operator and, before the evening was over, find himself being arrested on a charge of assaulting the manager of the telephone office? Who, in that same living room, could spend an entire evening manipulating the stops on his electric organ to match the tone of his 8-year-old daughter's toy flute?
Who, in one lifetime, could be a church organist, a courtroom lawyer, a department store executive, an automobile dealer, a banker, a building contractor, a big-time football referee, an Army officer with a brilliant record in two world wars, a baseball impresario, a racing-stable proprietor, a knowledgeable musician and a first-rate amateur chef? Who could be called, at various times during his cataclysmic career, a busher, a bully, a brawler, a flop, a MacPhailure—and also an incomparable administrator, a superlative showman, a sure judge of talent in humans and horseflesh, a savior of the national game and the purest genius ever to streak across the sporting scene?
Nobody. Nobody but MacPhail.
"Larry," murmured Mrs. MacPhail, unperturbed, "that's a glass table top."
"Mother," said 8-year-old Jeanie MacPhail quietly, "may I have some more fruit?" Her mother shook her head.