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WOULD YOU TRADE WITH THIS MAN?
Mark Kram
August 26, 1968
The biggest wheeler dealer baseball ever saw was Frank Lane, who is now an Orioles scout. He no longer swaps managers and superstars, but remains steeped in controversy
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August 26, 1968

Would You Trade With This Man?

The biggest wheeler dealer baseball ever saw was Frank Lane, who is now an Orioles scout. He no longer swaps managers and superstars, but remains steeped in controversy

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" 'Let me explain,' Weiss would quickly say.

" 'Forget it, George,' I'd say, quite exhausted. 'When did you develop a sense of humor?' I would then hang up, thoroughly aggravated. Weiss thought any club should be proud to have an ex-Yankee, even if the guy was maimed."

The Yankees were always a profitable target for Lane; a feud with them always produced at the gate, and Lane was unrelenting. " Weiss is a lonesome man," said Lane. "He'd like to be like Lane and Veeck, but he doesn't know how." Casey Stengel, he said, "is like Arthur Treacher, the actor who is the public's conception of a butler but doesn't know a damn thing about butlering. That's Stengel. He just looks like a manager." Lane is certain that Stengel, who was himself a master at the put-on, is still not sure whether Lane was serious or not.

Frank was not always so jocular, nor was he just a nice, eccentric dissident. More often, he was an irreverent, profane disturber of the peace. He laced into Commissioner Ford Frick for being desperately obsequious. Managers, he reported, were not good judges of talent; they think of only one day, one play. General managers, now—they were much better; they see much more. The one manager Lane respected was Paul Richards. "Yeah," says Lane, "but I never liked him. Richards looked out for Richards, but nobody did his job any better. He was tough and aloof, and when he walked into a clubhouse it was like a cold, sharp wind sweeping through it."

Lane was himself less than a favorite of the players. His trading bruised their thickly shelled sensitivity, and his endless vitriol from the stands dropped like a thud on their egos. Lane, because of wonderfully creative swearing that could effectively clear whole areas of fans, often had to sit in the bleachers, or, on special occasions in St. Louis, on the park roof. Still, Lane was generous with his players, although he was neither polite nor patient with them in his negotiations.

Ray Herbert was a good example of Lane's negotiating technique. Herbert thought that he had always been too easy to sign, and, after receiving one contract, he wrote Lane saying as much.

"All right, I'm upset," Lane wrote back, "so what are you up to?" Herbert explained he was "up to money."

"How's that new, comfortable home of yours?" Lane wrote in reply.

"The home's fine," answered Herbert, "but I'd really be comfortable, if you'd give me what I deserve. If not, listen, how about trading me for a couple of Class B pitchers?"

"I would," Lane wrote back, "but I'm not sure which Class B pitchers I can get." Exasperated at last, Lane ended communications with Herbert, saying: "Look, sign this contract, hang it on the wall, or tear it up." A few days later Lane opened an envelope and the pieces of Herbert's contract fell out.

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