What Rick tells the younger Reichardts is law. He told one sister she was too fat, and she lost 20 pounds in five weeks. He told another she could not be seen in a beer bar on the Wisconsin campus, and she was no longer seen there. When Mrs. Reichardt announced that dinner—half a dozen chickens, a tub of salad, and what looked to be a couple of baskets of fruit and several gallons of milk—was ready, Rick grabbed one of the younger brothers who was rushing toward the table. "Just a minute," Rick said. "Are your hands clean? Here, let me smell them. Get back in there and wash your hands. And from now on, pay more attention to brushing your teeth." A Broadway musical was playing on the stereo. There were Japanese-style paintings on one wall and an abstract color explosion on another, and the house was astonishingly orderly to be the abode of nine children. Mrs. Reichardt walked over to turn down the stereo. "Mother," Rick said, "not like that."
The Reichardts are as accustomed as Rick to the notice he attracts. It has been constant since Rick broke Elroy Hirsch's Wisconsin high school scoring record in football. During one game—according to Gene Calhoun, a Big Ten official and Madison attorney who acted as Rick's adviser as he did for Pat Richter, Ron VanderKelen, Ron Miller, Paul Warfield and many other Big Ten athletes—Rick had scored 27 points before leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter. The other team made a touchdown and went ahead. Rick returned to the game, and the quarterback asked what the play was to be. "The play," Rick said, "is to give me the ball and get out of the way." He ran 40 yards for a touchdown that won the game.
Rick's personal dilemma over whether to collect a baseball bonus or try to become a football All-America caught Dr. Reichardt with mingled emotions. Dr. Reichardt, 45, is an anxious Wisconsin football fan. But Dr. Reichardt is also an inveterate baseball fan (the youngest Reichardt son, Eddie, is named for Milwaukee Third Baseman Eddie Mathews) and a parent who wants to see his son prosper and do well.
"In hard fact it makes sense to play baseball rather than football," said Dr. Reichardt, who acted as team physician for the Green Bay Packers for the several years they trained in Stevens Point. "In baseball you have more longevity and wind up making more money. Rick is a boy with a lot of nervous energy. Football is better for him because it has more action and violence and there's not all that standing around that you do in baseball. But I know Rick can bear up under the long, full season of work in baseball. I remember at the state high school track meet, Rick was the only entry from his school. He was up all night before the meet. He must have run five miles warming up. Then he was in the trials of the 100 and 220, and in the finals of both those events. He ran the 100 in 10 flat. And he broad jumped. When he got home that night, he was tired. That's the kind of work he needs. He's restless.
"It's funny," said Dr. Reichardt. "You grow up like I did, thinking about baseball, about the heroes of the game, how the game is a reflection of American ideals. Then you get into it and you see all the angles. Baseball is a business just like other businesses, and you have to play the angles. You take advantage of the angles, or the angles will take advantage of you."
An angle that the Angels took advantage of was selling Rick on the clean life. Gene Autry, visiting in Madison, made a point of letting Rick know that he does not drink or smoke and that he also enjoys family gatherings, enjoys having players bring their wives and children to his house for dinner. For a family-oriented person like Rick, that was impressive. Autry and Bob Reynolds told Rick about their various corporations and what a future Rick could have if he finished with a business administration degree from the University of Southern California. That was also impressive, and Rick was inclined toward the Angels from the beginning.
The Cardinals sent a delegation to Madison for dinner with Rick, Dr. Reichardt and Gene Calhoun at a restaurant called the Hoffman House. The delegation included Vice-President Stan Musial, General Manager Bing Devine, Business Manager Art Routzong, Director of Scouts George Silvey and Scout Joe Monahan. The angles were 1) the attractiveness of having Musial as a hitting coach (Musial lectured during dinner on how to hit junk pitchers like Stu Miller), 2) the opportunity of breaking into the weak Cardinal outfield at once and 3) the monetary rewards of being a Cardinal. "Good gosh," Rick said, somewhat stunned after an hour and a half of secret financial discussion. "I'm glad a lawyer was there."
Early in June before the decision was made, Rick and Dr. Reichardt left on a scouting trip of their own to examine the angles. They met the Cardinals in Madison, and they went to Chicago for talks with the White Sox. The White Sox put the Reichardts into a front-row box next to Singer Jaye P. Morgan, and they made sure that Rick was introduced to Outfielder Dave Nicholson, a $100,000 bonus baby himself six years ago. Nicholson shook hands abruptly and then smashed a home run into the upper deck at White Sox Park, a clever piece of oneupmanship. As the exploding scoreboard fired its rockets and sounded its sirens and pieces of burnt paper floated down into the boxes, along with the smell of cordite, Rick said, "He got his pitch." The rest of the doubleheader against Detroit, Nicholson did not get his pitch and struck out three times.
From Chicago the Reichardts, who paid their own expenses during their trip, flew to Boston. Red Sox Executive Milt Boiling and Scout Chuck Koney met the Reichardts at the airport. Rick stood there—tall, smiling shyly and boyishly, ducking his head—while Bolling grinned at the thick neck and sloping shoulders. "Another Ted Williams," said Boiling. "Just like Ted," Koney agreed. "We need people like you, Rick," he added. "Colorful kids, drawing cards. We need you in the American League." They drove Rick along the Charles River on a gray, muggy afternoon and told him about all the universities in Boston and about New Boston and the advantages of being in on it. But the biggest advantage they showed him was the short left-field wall in Fenway Park. "Made for a right-handed power hitter like you," said Boiling. "It's supposed to be 315 feet officially, but a couple of our pitchers got out a tape measure and measured the distance to that fence, and they swore it's only 298 feet. Think of that, Rick." He had hours to think about it that afternoon and evening at a doubleheader between the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Flying down to New York on the shuttle, Dr. Reichardt was weighing and balancing the angles. "I sort of lean toward the National League," the doctor said. "It's better balanced and has newer ball parks and better cities for traveling." The National League for New York was out, however. The Mets had backed away from Rick when the price rose toward the quarter-million range. Rick, meanwhile, was still thinking about what Musial had said about his arm. "I have a strong arm," Rick said. "I used to be a pitcher. Last game I pitched, when I was 14, I pitched a one-hitter. Won the game, 6-5. I walked 21." He laughed. The cabby into the city complained about the traffic and explained to Rick how to play the numbers, and Rick sat forward on the seat and looked more interested than he had in either Chicago or Boston. "This is the city, kid," the cabby said. That night the Reichardts had dinner at Toots Shor's, a place they had wanted to see, and then went down to Greenwich Village and wandered through a street carnival celebrating the Feast of St. Anthony. There were electric lights up on the church and lights along the walls of the buildings, and there was a twist band and a greased-pole climbing contest, and the street was very crowded. Rick stopped at a vendor's and bought a bag of corn fritters. "Got any money, son?" asked Dr. Reichardt. "I have about $40," Rick said. "Where did you get it? I haven't sent you any money since September." said Dr. Reichardt. Rick shrugged. "I don't spend much. I get a lot of free meals. I let guys borrow my car for $5. Stuff like that."