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SLOW SEARCH FOR ANOTHER FRICK
Jack Mann
August 02, 1965
When baseball's owners met to consider a new commissioner, they mulled over dynamic names like McNamara and Kennedy, but what they really want is an amiable, sympathetic fellow like old Ford Frick
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August 02, 1965

Slow Search For Another Frick

When baseball's owners met to consider a new commissioner, they mulled over dynamic names like McNamara and Kennedy, but what they really want is an amiable, sympathetic fellow like old Ford Frick

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"Baseball no longer needs a policeman," Frick says. "The problems now are business: ownership and management. The game's integrity is beyond question."

Fetzer put it another way: "The integrity of the game is held in impeccable posture. It is a wholesome, clean sport." And a healthy, growing business.

So healthy that in Dearborn the need to reach a decision on who the next commissioner would be did not seem urgent. Most of the doodle pads contained notes like " TWA 4:45" and "United 5:10." The ruling heads of baseball, in convention assembled to create a quasi-messianic figurehead, were already looking for the exits. Fetzer"s briefcase contained, by his own estimate, 30 to 35 pounds of intelligence on potential commissioners, but nobody was clamoring for it.

"We'll probably meet again in September," Galbreath said. "Too many people will be away in August." Meanwhile, Fetzer said, the committee had quite a series of indirect contacts to make. "Yes, indirect," he explained. "We have not subjectively contacted anyone, but there are a lot of ways you can do it. Through a friend you can feel somebody out."

"Some prospects have been eliminated," Galbreath said, "not because of unsuitability but because of unavailability. We don't want to embarrass anybody, and we certainly don't want to be embarrassed."

It was suggested that the size of the salary and the length of the term might affect the availability of a man with the stature the owners have in mind. Pete Rozelle's commonly published $60,000 income as commissioner of the National Football League compares favorably with Frick's $65,000 considering Rozelle's solid tenure and the prosperity of his enterprise. Supreme Court judges don't make that kind of money, but they have life terms.

"We would be in a position to make the position attractive," Galbreath said. But, he added, neither salary nor tenure was discussed at Dearborn. "You have to remember," Galbreath said, "that these men [the owners] arc 20 rugged individualists. It isn't exactly easy for them to reach agreement."

Rugged individualists do not generally gravitate toward other rugged individualists—a fact that certainly militates against a man like Bill Shea, for example. More vividly than his work to create the New York Mets, the owners recall his struggle to found the Continental League, a project they effectively throttled. Shea is out.

So, probably, is Bob Cannon, the Milwaukee Municipal Court judge who has demonstrated his capacity for getting things done as counsel to the Baseball Players Association. Cannon's credentials are impressive, and one thing he has going for him is the support of Boston Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey. Unlike many of his lodge brothers, however, Yawkey does not regard baseball players as his natural economic enemies. Cannon's identification with the cause of the players and his gentle firmness have probably done him in.

In feeling out the remainder of their nonbaseball Who's Who, Fetzer and Galbreath—as ruggedly individualistic as any of the owners—may encounter the same rugged individualism that gave their men of stature stature. If this is the case, it will be as Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick said of Herbert Hoover's nomination in 1928: the man will not do.

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