"No, I wouldn't," he said. "Those days are over. I'm a pinch hitter, and I know it. And with me as a pinch hitter, you can win."
I gave him the job and he started spraying hits all over the place, and pretty soon the papers were full of stories about another one of Buzzie's coups, and how the Mets were stupid. And as far as the Mets' stupidity was concerned, I thought then and I still think now that they were right in releasing Stuart. The Mets are a young ball club, they're building, and they have a kid first baseman named Ed Kranepool who can hit a ton if he gets the seasoning. If I had been with the Mets, I'd have released Dick Stuart myself.
There's another kind of big deal that the general manager gets the credit for and really has very little to do with, and that's the one shoved down his throat by some scout. The scout will keep calling and calling about some ballplayer he's spotted, and you'll keep telling him to forget it, and he'll keep telling you you've got to bring the kid up right away, he's ready, he'll set the league on fire, etc., etc. So finally you bring the kid up to get the scout off your back and the kid plays like a million dollars and then everybody writes what a brilliant move you made. No kidding! I'm not trying to be modest, either. I know what I do for the Dodgers and what I don't do, and I'll take the credit for having a good scouting staff, for having a good organization in the first place. That's where general management comes in: you pick the right men for the right jobs and you sit back and get all the credit!
The scout who comes immediately to mind is Johnny Corriden, a sweet old guy who knocked around baseball for years and years. Johnny had been around the Dodgers when I first came into baseball, and he treated me like a man when a lot of the other guys were giving me the rookie hazing treatment. I always had a soft spot for Johnny after that, and years later, when he was getting old and he was out of baseball, I found he needed a job. The trick was to find him something that wouldn't be too strenuous, wouldn't take him too far from his home in Indianapolis and yet would give him a feeling he was earning his pay. So I called him and I said, "John, I want you to go to every ball game that's played in Indianapolis, and I want you to tell me if you see anything good for us."
So Johnny goes to work, and he pulls his load. Nothing spectacular, but then we're not paying him anything spectacular, either. Now comes the 1959 season, our second year in the Coliseum. The year before we've finished seventh, and for the 1959 season certain geniuses of the press are predicting another miserable year for us. But as the season wears on, it begins to look like we actually have a chance to win it all. I could taste that pennant! I was going to make those writers eat their columns. The only trouble was we were short a good relief pitcher, and I didn't have the slightest idea where to look.
One day I was talking to Corriden and I said, "Johnny, I want you to pay special attention to pitchers. We can win this thing with another relief pitcher."
The next week I get a call from Indianapolis. "Buzzie," Johnny says, "I've found a reliever. And where do you think he is? At St. Paul!"
St. Paul was our own farm club, which made things real nice, but the trouble was I didn't think much of John's idea of a pitcher. It was Larry Sherry. I knew Larry Sherry, and to my mind he just wasn't ready. But how was I going to stall Johnny off?
"John," I said, "why don't you take another look at him when St. Paul comes through town again?"
He says, "I don't have to look at him again. You asked me to do a job, and I did it. Now you tell me to take another look. You ought to bring him up right now!"