MacPhail grinned and shook his head. He got up and joined his skipper at the wheel, studying the charts. He asked the captain if he was quite clear about where they wanted to go: the Great Oak Yacht Club on Fairlee Creek, another tributary of Chesapeake Bay. The captain said he knew exactly where it was.
MacPhail came back down to the deck and I stood beside him at the rail. Mrs. MacPhail sat reading a paperback book entitled A Family Affair. MacPhail pointed out some of the estates along the Sassafras and mentioned that there were 5,000 miles of waterways in the Chesapeake Bay area which, he said, unfortunately became almost intolerable with heat and humidity in July and August. Then the MacPhails usually took the boat farther north, up the Hudson perhaps or (as they did this summer) through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes. In the winter they live on the Jean KM for two or three months in Florida.
MacPhail turned away from the rail and I followed him below to the main cabin where he started looking through his records for selections to play on the boat's high-fidelity system. He asked me if there was anything I wanted to hear and I said he probably didn't have The Battle Hymn of the Republic as done by Fred Waring and his chorus.
"Got it right here," said MacPhail, consulting his index and adding the record to those on the player.
We settled down to talk, with the music softly in the background. I drew my notebook from my pocket and laid it beside me on the sofa, flipping over a few pages. MacPhail, seated across the cabin, looked at the notebook quizzically. It was not a notebook I was taking notes in. It was already filled with notes I had made before coming to see MacPhail for the first time, at his Maryland farm, about two weeks before. The notes included statements, highly critical of MacPhail in some cases, lavishly praising him in other cases, reporting things he had done in the heat of anger, like fighting policemen, newspapermen, baseball associates and the telephone company. From time to time, during my talks with MacPhail, I had quoted from the notebook. He had confirmed some things and denied others with vehemence. I still hadn't brought up the touchiest subject of all: MacPhail's long, running feud with Branch Rickey, the most celebrated personality conflict in baseball. As far as I could find out, the two men were still as far apart as their favorite drinks: MacPhail's brandy and soda, Rickey's root beer and milk.
It was a subject to be approached, I felt, with care. I was glad MacPhail had turned on the hi-fi. It gave me a chance to start with a noninflammable topic: his interest in music.
"Yes," said MacPhail, relaxing and taking his eyes off the notebook. "I've always loved the opera and symphonic music. I guess I've heard every great symphony orchestra in the United States and Europe. Mrs. MacPhail and I made a trip to Paris especially to hear the Vienna Symphony play the first concert by a foreign orchestra after the war."
"Do you have any favorite composer?" I asked.
MacPhail looked at me rather sharply.
"I don't think," he said, "you have a favorite composer. Maybe you have favorite symphonies."