I made the deal for $11,000, and if you can beat that, call me collect. Joe Black won the pennant for Brooklyn in 1952, and Jim Gilliam has done as much for the Dodgers through the years as any ballplayer I can think of, including some of the biggest names in the club's history. I'd hate to think what our record would have been without him. Funny thing about Gilliam: he's been on the block every single year since we got him. That is, according to the press. I can't remember a spring when the newspapermen didn't put Gilliam up for trade. It gives me great pleasure to report that we never even came close. That's why he's on our coaching staff now. Gilliam's playing days are over, but I wouldn't trade him for Nebraska.
Of course, if you take a real good look at this business of who traded whom and for what, it can get ridiculous. It balances out. Or at least that's what I tell myself every time I think of Roberto Clemente.
We once owned Clemente. We signed him for a $10,000 bonus and sent him to Montreal for seasoning. He was a 19-year-old kid, right out of the winter leagues, and there wasn't any room for him on the roster of the big club. We ordered Montreal to keep him under wraps any way they could. Up there he was eligible for the baseball draft, and we didn't want to lose anybody as promising as this kid. On the other hand, we didn't realize how great he was or we'd have put him on the big club right away and protected him from the draft regardless of who we'd have to unload.
At Montreal, to keep Clemente from looking too good, our manager, Max Macon, kept moving him in and out of the lineup. Poor Roberto! He'd strike out and Max would let him play the whole game. If he hit a home run, Max would get him out of there quick. He was benched one game because he had hit three triples the day before. He was taken out for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the first inning of another game. You can imagine how this must have puzzled the kid. The net effect was to hold his batting average down to .257, and we figured he was safe from the draft.
But Clyde Sukeforth, who had come out of our own organization and now was scouting for the Pirates, had his eye on Roberto. He told Macon, "Take good care of Clemente. We want him in good shape when we draft him."
Max says, " Clemente? He's nothing!" Max knew better, and so did Sukey. That year Pittsburgh finished last in the league and had the first draft choice. There goes Clemente! Am I admitting that we blew it? I certainly am. But then I always say: of all the different kinds of sight, the best kind is hind.
That's especially true in baseball, and that's one of the wonderful things about the game. The second time you take your grandmother to a ball game she's second-guessing the managers and explaining the infield-fly rule to some stranger three rows back. Everything in baseball is right out there in the open, and your opinion is as good as mine. As a baseball general manager I have to be concerned about things like taxes and attendance and interleague play and concessions and so forth, but when you get right down to it the game of baseball is about two things and two things only: winning and losing.
You've got to love baseball to be a general manager, or else you've got to be stupid, and maybe it's a little bit of both with me. I do know that I wouldn't have missed this career for anything in the world. I go home every night and say, "What a way to make a living!" It's a pleasure to get up in the morning, and anybody who complains about a job in baseball is either an idiot or a moron. If someone had told me 25 years ago that I'd be spending my springs in Florida watching baseball games and my summers in Los Angeles watching baseball games and my evenings at home watching baseball games, I'd have sent for the wagon. Sometimes I feel I should go into O'Malley's office and tell him to cut my salary $10,000 because it's not fair that I should be getting so much money for having so much fun. I mean, there are a lot of interesting ways to make a living, like telling jokes or flying planes or tasting wines, but not for me. I'll take baseball all the way.