Buzzie points at Johnson with a fancy new ruler and Sweet Lou grabs it. "What's this?" he says with feigned anger. "You sitting up here playing with a ruler with pictures of the St. Louis Cardinals on it? Well, damn! We out there fighting like hell and you sitting up here with a St. Louis Cardinals' ruler. Man, you really bad news."
The Los Angeles Dodgers of 1966, the latest representatives of the most successful franchise in postwar National League history, are like a fighter who comes into the last round reeling and winded and firmly convinced against all logic that he is going to knock the bum out. "This ball club is like a single individual," says the erudite first baseman, college graduate and student author, Wesley Parker, a young man who overcame the handicap of coming from the right side of the tracks to wind up as a journeyman major-leaguer. "This club is like a human being. It has a cheerful personality, and it goes out and plays that way. Sure, once in a while the ball club gets grouchy, but that's rare. With guys like Lou Johnson and Wes Covington around, we stay loose most of the time."
"The day Covington joined this ball club the spirit went up 100%," says Bavasi, "and the same thing happened last year when we got Lou. The minute Lou comes into sight I gotta laugh. He says, 'Hello, Buzzie,' and I'm falling on the floor. Even his problems are funny. You know, Lou never had much money, playing in the minors, and some of his bills didn't get paid on time. There was one from a clothing store in Milwaukee. I called him in and I said, ' Lou, you gotta pay this bill. It's three years old.'
"He says, 'Gee whiz, Buzzie, I had to have clothes for my little boys.'
"I said, 'How old were your boys when you ran up this bill?'
"He says, 'One was 4 and one was 8.'
"I pulled out the bill and I said, In other words, they didn't wear 42 long?' There it was, right on the bill: 'Two suits, 42 long, $385.' But Sweet Lou, he just doesn't understand money. Money is another country. You open up your wallet and give him everything you've got and he'll be back for more tomorrow. Last year he comes to me for World Series tickets for his wife, so I handed 'em over and I said, 'That'll be $48.'
"He said, '$48 for what?'
"I said, 'Everybody has to pay for them, Lou. Drysdale and Koufax were just in here, and they had to pay for 'em, too.'
"He thinks it over for a minute. Then he says, 'She ain't going,' and he walks out. Now, how you gonna get grim with guys like that around?"