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Both Drysdale and Koufax are quite bright young men who can think for themselves, and there is no issue of right and wrong here, for two reasons. First, baseball salaries are and always have been so capriciously predicated on performance and seniority ("drawing power" is a recent concept), that $166,666.66 may well be the proper pittance for a Sandy Koufax. So, by the same standards, may $80,000. Secondly, baseball's legal-fiscal structure has been multifariously unfair for half a century and will continue to be so if possible. Maybe a shake of the foundation is in order.
What has happened is an interplanetary collision. Planet Baseball, in which the performers, with notable exceptions, have never learned an effective method of getting their equitable share of the box office, has bumped into Planet Show Biz, in which a star is a star and sometimes the show won't go on without him. If The Beatles don't like the price they don't make the picture, and no Reserve Clause makes them sit out the season. The business of baseball is a game, in which the team is greater than any of its parts. But any two of its parts? No two players—not Ruth and Gehrig, Mize and Medwick, Hubbell and Ott—had ever enjoyed a greater sine que non position than K&D with the 1965 Dodgers. The show could go on, but what kind of show would it be? Bill Giles, Houston publicity man, lamented extravagantly that their absence would cost the Astros $200,000.
"I admire the boys' strategy," said O'Malley, the old negotiator, "and we can't do without them, even for a little while. We're lacking too much. But we can't give in to them. There are too many agents hanging around Hollywood looking for clients."
Agentry was No. 1 on O'Malley's list of objections to the K&D proposition, or at least it was the first one he mentioned. The others, "all of about equal importance," were:
2) "The entry. Next year you might have a dozen entries, or one 23-man entry. There's nothing wrong with unionism, but that's the wrong way. I think a sophisticated union would be good for the players." Did he think a union could ever be sophisticated enough to set a scale salary for a switch-hitting second baseman who batted .278 but had a little trouble with the double play? "No," O'Malley said.
3) "The three-year contract. It's possible we might change our policy and give a three-year contract. It might be all right for a kid like Jim Lefebvre. But if you did it you wouldn't start with veterans." Not, anyway, a veteran with Koufax' medical history. Baseball law allows a maximum 25% cut each year. A flare-up of Sandy's traumatic arthritis or a recurrence of the circulatory problem that almost ended his career in 1962 might leave the Dodgers in the position of paying more than Willie Mays gets to a pitcher who couldn't pitch.
4) The money. "I told Sandy he's talking about very cheap dollars. I don't know what he made altogether during the winter, but they say it was $110,000 for the book and $40,000 for the magazine rights, so he must be in a higher bracket than I am. I don't think it's the money they're interested in as much as the prestige. It's like Gleason making a movie. You know he doesn't need the money."
It was suggested to O'Malley that he was negotiating a test case on behalf of all baseball owners—that, for example, his relations with Pittsburgh Pirate Owner John Galbreath might be less cordial if K&D prevailed and Roberto Clemente and Bob Veale called at Galbreath's office with their partnership papers next winter. "We've had enough calls from other people," O'Malley admitted. "Nobody wants it to happen."
Could it happen to a team with a less formidable tandem than the Dodgers? "It could happen to any team," said General Manager E. J. (Buzzie) Bavasi. " Kansas City has nothing, right? Well, what would they have without Wyatt and Campaneris?"
What would happen, Bavasi was asked, if K&D dismissed their agent, settled for one-year contracts and agreed to split the money down the middle, say $97,500 each? "No good," he said. "Believe me, it's no fun for me to tell Drysdale that Koufax is the better pitcher, but I had to do it. The entry has to be broken up, and Koufax has to get more money. Then if he wants to write his own check to Drysdale, that's his business."