January 15 came and went, but the White Sox might have mailed the contract late in the day, before the midnight deadline. At noon on January 16, the postman rang, once.
"Registered letter," he said. "Sign here and here."
I did so, mumbling something like, "About time."
"Your contract, huh?" the postman said. "The White Sox can use you, boy." Shows what postmen know.
Inside the house I opened the envelope and looked at the contract it contained. Another clause in the Uniform Player's Contract says that the club cannot cut a player's salary more than 25%. The White Sox did not cut my salary more than 25%.
"Read it and weep," I said, handing the contract to my wife. After 11 years, baseball wives can take in a contract at a glance. Anne noticed not only the shrunken salary but a phrase in the covering letter from White Sox General Manager Ed Short stating that I would not be allowed to write during the season.
"He can't be serious," Anne said.
"You've never seen him finger a dollar bill," I said.
I didn't sign the contract. I waited. I felt an immediate reaction to the contract on my part would not be seemly in the circumstances. After a couple of weeks I took a deep breath and wrote a letter to Ed Short. Just as I was finishing it, I got a phone call from Brent Musburger, a Chicago sportswriter.
"Are you going to be allowed to publish anything this season?" Brent asked, among other things.