Hodges ate guys out in front of the whole team for things they had done wrong long before. He acted as if he had something personal against every man on his squad. Joining the Senators was like starting a prison term. Hodges was the warden, expecting the worst from everyone.
Actually, my first meeting with Hodges was fairly pleasant. The clash of personalities was there, all right, but under the surface. I reported to his office in the clubhouse at Washington on June 23, 1966. After Hodges and I shook hands, he said, "I know you're going bad, but I know the type ballplayer you are and the type ballplayer you can be."
Then he said, "I know you've got good hands. I know you can play first base better than you've been playing it. I know you can hit better. You're just the way I was at your age. While you're here, we're going to make you a good first baseman or no first baseman at all."
"All right," I said.
"And I don't want you to play any golf," he added.
That was something of a blow. Dark had let me play because he thought it relaxed me. But when Hodges ordered me to quit, I told him I would, and I did.
At the time I had been running the bases really well—it was about the only thing I had done right at Kansas City that year. I had stolen nine bases in nine tries and had more steals than anybody on the Washington club. Alvin had let me run on my own.
"Do you let any of the guys run on their own here?" I asked Hodges.
"No," he said. "Nobody but Fred Valentine. I'll give you the signal when I want you to go."
"I was 9 for 9 over in Kansas City," I said. "I can steal a base for you."