Ott that Pasquel's agents were in touch with several of his players. He called
a clubhouse meeting and asked Maglie if he was involved. Sal replied that he
had made up his mind to go to Mexico. Ott was furious. While the tension
mounted, Bill Voiselle, a pitcher who was hard of hearing, remained blissfully
in the washroom, shaving. He had not heard the summons to a meeting. Suddenly
the strained silence in the clubhouse was broken by Voiselle, cheerily
whistling a popular song of the day, "South of the border, down Mexico
The meeting broke
up in a roar of laughter, but Giant President Horace Stoneham called Hausmann
and Zimmerman to his office. The two players admitted they would go to Mexico
"if the price is right." "Then you're through with the Giants,"
Pasquel and told him the three Giant players were on their way. "He sent us
$1,000 so we could fly there," Maglie says. "But we couldn't get plane
reservations, so we went to Mexico City by train. And when we got there we had
to pay the expense money back."
meanwhile, had other irons in the fire. Despite his fatal error in the 1941
World Series, Mickey Owen was considered one of the best catchers in baseball.
In the early spring of 1946 he was at the Sampson, N.Y. Naval Training Station,
awaiting his discharge. Like most sailors, Mickey whiled away the long hours on
the base by writing letters. These letters tended to have a financial tone.
One, to his friend Luis Olmo, asked the former Dodger outfielder if all those
rumors he had heard about high Mexican salaries were true. Another, to Dodger
President Branch Rickey, asked if the contract he had signed for $14,500 a year
before entering the Navy could be adjusted.
Olmo proved to be
the more faithful correspondent. He answered promptly, advising Owen to contact
Pasquel directly. The response from Brooklyn was vague.
"The idea of
going to Mexico appealed to me," says Owen, who is now the sheriff of
Greene County, Mo. "Now and then a man wants to go somewhere else and do
something new. Especially if he can get paid for it."
Owen entered into
a detailed correspondence with Pasquel. Pasquel's final offer was very
attractive to a Rickey employee: a bonus of $12,500 to sign a five-year
contract at $15,000 a year, the payment for the fifth year to be made in
advance. Pasquel also agreed to pay Owen's income taxes in both countries and
provide him with an apartment.
In early April,
with his discharge in his pocket and his wife in the car beside him, Mickey
headed for Mexico. In San Antonio, there occurred one of those frantic and
confusing incidents that undermined the illusion of stability upon which
Pasquel hoped to build his league. Waiting there for Owen were Jorge's brother,
Alfonso, and a message to call Branch Rickey.
anxious to hustle his prize across the border. Owen insisted on returning
Rickey's call first. The Pasquels, threatening, charming, or writing checks,
were never a match for Rickey's stern but fatherly moral lectures. Owen,
tempted by Pasquel yet yearning for the moral fragrance symbolized by that
marvelous voice on the telephone, was reduced to a nervous wreck.
even offered to bring my mother down," a distraught Owen told reporters at
the time. "But I started out with the old man, and I wouldn't like to go
back on our friendship."