MacPhail shook his head. "I miss it most in the spring. Then I get the itch and the urge. I wouldn't say I miss the games during the season. But I do miss the associations. I went in to see the Orioles and the Yankees play the other night [MacPhail's son Lee is general manager of the Baltimore Orioles] and I sat with Charley Keller, my old outfielder with the Yankees, and Charley and I agreed that we missed the old associations of baseball."
MacPhail chuckled. "I asked Charley how his boy was doing in Class-D ball and he said that he'd been up 13 times and struck out 10 times. 'Well, Charley,' I said, 'Class-D leagues are tougher these days because there aren't so many of them and what talent there is is concentrated in those leagues. In the old days the talent was spread out more and Class-D competition wasn't as keen.' Charley agreed to that.
"Then we thought of Joe McCarthy who was my manager in my first year with the Yankees. We got to wondering what Joe would do to snap the Yanks out of their slump. He would have done something, because in my opinion Joe McCarthy was a master psychologist. He never went to college and would have laughed at you if you called him any kind of psychologist, but that's exactly what he was. Charley Keller said Joe didn't handle any two ballplayers the same way. He said he handled him different than he did DiMaggio and DiMaggio different than he did anybody else on the club."
MacPhail took both hands from the wheel for a second and flung out his arms. "Oh, I had some great managers working for me through the years," he said, " Joe McCarthy, Bucky Harris, Leo Durocher, Chuck Dressen, Casey Stengel at Kansas City in our minor league organization. They were all great managers, they all got the most out of what material they happened to have. But they were all different. I remember Bill Meyer who managed the Kansas City club for me. Bill was great providing you gave him the type of ball club he wanted. Bill liked to run and he liked to hit and run and if you gave him boys who were fast on their feet, he was terrific. McCarthy, of course, had to be a different kind of manager. With men like Ruth, Gehrig, Henrich, Keller, Dickey and DiMaggio, you don't play for one run in an inning.
"All great managers and all great football coaches adapt their style of play to their material. I remember when the Michigan alumni were trying to crucify Mr. Fielding Yost. They said he didn't know anything about the modern game of football, they said the parade had passed him by. Then, a couple of years later, Mr. Yost came up with the greatest forward passing combination in history with Benny Friedman throwing and Bennie Oosterbaan receiving. But, of course, he couldn't play that kind of football when he didn't have the material. I remember Zuppke at Illinois used to say, 'Punt, pass and pray.' But when you didn't have the passers, you just had to punt and pray and when you didn't have the kickers, you just had to pray."
MacPhail was silent a moment and then he said, "Yes, you miss the associations. You always miss the associations."
MacPhail is as much at home at a race track as he used to be in a ball park. At Delaware Park, at Pimlico, at Monmouth, parking lot attendants, ticket takers, sellers, cashiers, waiters, bartenders, agents, jockeys, trainers, owners, all hail him as "Colonel" as he moves through the crowd, with the purposeful stride of, say, a football referee measuring off a penalty. People who do not know him at all, recognize him and call out, "What do you say there, Larry? How about those Yankees?" MacPhail grins and waves a greeting and bellows back at them, "Don't ask me, I'm out of all that!"
This day, at the entrance to the Pimlico clubhouse, MacPhail buttoned the collar of his sport shirt and drew a clip-on bow tie from his pocket to satisfy the clubhouse rule that gentlemen will wear jackets and neckties. He had two horses running that day, Royal Voyage in the fourth and Aberdeen in the sixth. I followed him along to the aisle to the clubhouse boxes, and the head usher spotted him right away and sang out, "How are you, Colonel!" and led the way to Alfred Vanderbilt's box at the finish line. ( Vanderbilt wasn't there that day, but MacPhail has always used his box at the track. In the baseball days, Vanderbilt always sat in the MacPhail box at the ball park.)
After the second race we got up and went out to the bar and MacPhail had a brandy and soda. People crowded around him and Jimmy Stewart, an owner and breeder generally beloved as "Irish Jimmy," invited him to have another drink, and he did because Stewart's horse, Rustic Billy, had won the second race. Stewart, it developed, hadn't had even a deuce on him.
The horse talk was thick and there was enormous good feeling and a lot of backslapping and laughing. It scarcely seemed the time to ask MacPhail about the fight with the cops at Bowie.