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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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Lane had trouble finding anyone to testify for him at the trial. One executive, who had worked for Finley, volunteered to appear but he never did, claiming later: "Why, Frank, I have to deal with Finley." Only Bill Veeck took the stand for Lane. Lane testified that he had sought employment while in Mexico. "I wrote to all my friends looking for a job," Lane testified, "but only a couple answered." Did Lane turn down a broadcasting job in Kansas City, Bill Veeck was asked? "Well, let me say this," Veeck replied. "If I were hiring broadcasters, Frank Lane would be the last man I'd want near a mike." Veeck's testimony was powerful, and it was not long before Finley and Lane reached a settlement—in Lane's favor, but he would never achieve any position of power again. He would never make any more trades.

Small bursts of lightning move across the window of a small hotel room in Houston. The Sporting News , with all its gray minutia, is on the bed. "I was reading it until 4 this morning," says Frank Lane. Next to the phone is a scratch pad covered with doodling. On the dresser are the little books filled with tiny figures and names, the language of his life. Lane talks, but he is evasive, cautious now. " Finley," he says, "is a nice man. It's just that he is like a man who builds a house right down to the smallest of his specifications and then goes and throws rocks through the windows. The worst thing I ever did was listen to him, go to work for him. But if I worked for him again, I'd con him."

His words drone on, your mind wanders. The last dramatic trade in baseball, you remember, was the one involving Frank Robinson back in 1965. Lane is a relic, you think; his kind of front-office baseball is no more. Now the image of Lane standing in the lobby waves through the mind. He just goes from town to town, telling all of his old stories and campaigning for The Game—his last hustle.

His daily routine is rigid: up at 6 a.m., deep-breathing exercises, breakfast. Then, later to the ball park and back to the hotel room, where he works on his reports. The pencil moves slower these days, but his remarks remain sharp: "Bad in the clubhouse;" "the only reason this guy is used is because nine players are required." Yes, you think, he is J. Henry Waugh, Prop., the character who oversees a whole imaginary baseball world in Robert Coover's novel The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.

"I'm really lucky," Lane says, after once again insisting that he never did try to trade Stan Musial. "I'm lucky to still be in baseball. It's a helluva game. A grand game."

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