"Don't hold your breath," I told her.
Twenty-four hours later a germ hit me, and I was in bed for three days. I had horrible daymares about having to pay for extended illnesses out of my own pocket instead of the ballplayer pension plan with its hospitalization benefits. Heartrending, maudlin reminiscences followed. Ed Short missed a bet by not coming to comfort me.
But glorious health soon returned, and I could hardly wait for the next round.
The Sporting News
, baseball's trade paper, published an editorial supporting my side of the argument. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ran an item. And The Atlantic Monthly
scheduled an article of mine for its April issue. Now I couldn't sign a contract without violating Short's Law.
On February 20, Short stirred. Brent Musburger phoned him, and Short told Brent that he had taken no interest in my contract for three weeks. But a while later Short phoned me and told me that he had contacted all the other 19 major league clubs—an act which he implied had been a waste of time. The implication seemed clear. If I insisted on publishing during the baseball season, I could not play in the major leagues.
"So," he said, "we'll ask waivers on you and give you your release."
The White Sox, flushed with second-place success, would give away a pitcher rather than give in to him. Even allowing for the big salary cut, Short was still willing to pay me $24,000—if I would forgo the pleasures of publishing. The scheme of things demanded sacrifice, give up one job for another. Hung on a principle, I was free to meditate the high cost of principles. Moral satisfaction can be morale shattering.
"Goodby sirloin, hello hamburger," said my wife.
"It's only money," I said helpfully.
A radio broadcaster friend of mine said he did not think that Short would let me go for nothing unless he felt certain that no other club would play me if I continued to demand the right to publish during the season. I knew the Reds wouldn't, nor would the Tigers. I called the Mets—New York is such a good town for a writer—but even they weren't interested.
"What now?" asked the inquisitive Musburger. "What can you do?"