"When he went
in the men's room door," Stephens says, "I went out the front door. In
10 minutes we were on our way. It's about a three-and-a-half-hour drive to the
border, and we knew that if Pasquel realized what was going on he had the power
to have us stopped. They checked cars, anyway, at the border, and if there were
more people in one than the permit listed, you might be in trouble."
Two blocks from
the border Fournier stopped the car and Stephens got out. He put on Fournier's
hat and his father's coat and walked gingerly across the bridge to Laredo, in
Mexican ball for me," he says. "All I had were the clothes on my back.
The rest of my things were still in the hotel. Even my spikes and
returned the check for $25,000, Pasquel was furious. That players he had
befriended and paid generously were betraying him was bad enough. He was even
more affronted by American baseball officials who called him an
"outlaw." He complained that it was he, and not they, who was being
harassed. As evidence, he cited the fact that he was not able to buy
American-made bats and balls because the manufacturers feared a retaliatory
boycott by Organized Baseball.
league was struggling to get started," Pasquel said, "major league
scouts came down here and stole our players. Why? Because they offered them
more money. We're giving those people a dose of their own medicine."
up his raids on the major leagues. Bob Feller rejected his offer. Ted Williams
ignored the blank contract Pasquel sent him. But other American stars wavered
in the face of temptation. Bernardo Pasquel entertained Yankee Shortstop Phil
Rizzuto and his wife at dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria, offering him a long-term
contract at 512,500 a year and a 515,000 bonus. Rizzuto promised to think it
over. Before Pasquel received an answer, the Yankees brought suit to keep him
from tampering with their players.
Pasquel visited Stan Musial in his hotel room. While Musial, who was making
$13,500 a year with the Cardinals, watched in astonishment, Pasquel spread five
cashier's checks, each for $10,000, on his bed. This, Pasquel told him, was
merely a bonus. While Musial turned the offer over in his mind, Cardinal
Manager Eddie Dyer (an old Rickey man) effectively intervened.
got two children," Dyer said. "Do you want them to hear someone say,
'There are the kids of a guy who broke a contract'?"
to go to Mexico, but the Pasquels scored their most dramatic coup by hijacking
three other Cardinals, Pitchers Max Lanier and Fred Martin and Second Baseman
Lou Klein. Lanier was the prize. Considered by some baseball men to be the best
pitcher in the National League, he had a 6-0 record with St. Louis when he left
for Mexico in June.
The uproar took
on special overtones. In Washington, a State Department official wished
Organized Baseball would show a desire to clean up its differences with the
Mexicans. "Baseball is making it tough for us," the anonymous official
said. "We try to build up good will, and this sort of thing tears it
down." In Cincinnati, Baseball Commissioner A. B. (Happy) Chandler replied
that "the State Department has enough to do without meddling in