Within a day or two after the clubhouse meeting, Devine and Keane were called to the brewery for a routine meeting with Busch to discuss the ball club before the Cards went on the road.
And right here we come to a second maddening accident of timing. The one man who has the ability to move easily between Busch and the hired hands is Dick Meyer, a brewery executive who helps out along the baseball front. Meyer is completely loyal to Busch, but he has a fine diplomatic touch, and it has become customary for all the baseball people to seek his advice before any meeting with Busch. Devine wanted to ask Meyer whether he and Keane should tell Gussie about Groat's apology and about the general sniping that had led up to it. Meyer, they were told, was tied up in a meeting of his own.
That left Bing and Johnny to come to some decision on their own as they were driving out to the brewery. Devine, still out to protect his manager, decided that if Gussie indicated he knew anything about it they'd tell him the full story, but that if Gussie didn't bring it up, there was nothing to be gained by mentioning it themselves.
The conference turned out to be a short, routine affair. As they were going out the door, however, Gussie, remembering the Mathews gibe, called out almost as an afterthought, "Bing, there isn't any dissension or anything like that on the club, is there?"
Devine, taken by surprise, went the way he was mentally pitched to go. He said that there wasn't. Busch then asked Keane the same question. Johnny hesitated for a moment and then said, "No, there isn't."
As they left the brewery they both knew the fat was in the fire. No matter how they might rationalize it, they realized that they had deliberately misled Busch. When they got back to town they contacted Meyer's office again, and this time he was available.
Meyer told them they had made a bad mistake. If Busch feels he is entitled to one thing above all else from his employees, it is absolute loyalty. The only possible way to salvage the situation, Meyer decided, was for him to tell Busch the true situation as quickly as possible.
Predictably, Busch was furious. "What kind of games are they playing?" he protested. "They lie to me when I ask them point-blank and then go right down and tell you. I thought I was the owner of this team, but it seems that everybody down to the bat boy knows what's going on before I do. Well, I'm going to fire them both!"
Branch Rickey, who had been called in, warned that it would look very bad to fire both the general manager and manager in the middle of the year. Rickey's advice was to fire Keane but not Devine.
Busch could see the logic in not bouncing them together. His candidate for outer darkness, however, was Devine. He could understand, he said, that Keane might believe that his primary loyalty was to his players. Yes, a manager did have to protect his players. But Devine, as general manager, was a company man. He was supposed to be Busch's eyes in the organization. Devine's loyalty, he maintained, should have gone unquestionably to the owner, not to the manager. Keane could stay on to the end of the season, Gussie decided, but Devine was through.