Bobby said, "the commissioner has asked us to meet him, and we're going to
give him that courtesy."
I finally said,
"O.K.," but I griped all the way to New York.
In New York we
went to the commissioner's private office. Spacious, beautifully furnished, it
was a pretty awesome sight for a mere ballplayer. The five men in the room
represented the top brass of baseball and of two major league clubs. There was
the commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, dark-haired, impeccably dressed, towering over
everyone. There was Joe Cronin, the American League president, fat, friendly,
hail-fellow-well-met, who might be nearly as tall as Kuhn but doesn't look it
because he is almost as broad as he is long. There was Dick O'Connell, the Red
Sox general manager, thin, intense, with sparse gray hair and a solemn look on
his face. There was Gabe Paul, short, a bit heavyset, with wavy salt-and-pepper
hair, smiling in a worried sort of way. And there was Charlie Segar, veteran
assistant to baseball commissioners since Ford Frick's time.
We shook hands all
around, then the commissioner invited us to take seats while he settled himself
behind his desk in one corner of the room. I sat on a chair directly in front
of but several feet away from the desk, with Paul on my left and O'Connell on
my right. Segar, who didn't utter a word throughout the meeting, sat behind us.
Woolf and Cronin were on a divan to the left of the desk.
Once we were all
in place, Woolf was the first to speak. While emphasizing that I could afford
to retire and seemed to prefer retirement to leaving Boston, he pointed out
that I was really a pretty mixed up guy at the moment. I was too hurt, too
angry, too shocked, too upset to think straight. "Gentlemen," he said,
"this man has taken a terrible emotional beating—is still taking one. As
his friend I'm highly aware of this. And as his attorney I am compelled to ask
you this—must he take an economic beating, too?"
For a moment
nobody spoke. Then the commissioner, the only attorney in the room besides
Woolf, looked around, his eyes resting for a moment on each of us, and said,
"There must be a mutually satisfactory solution to this problem. We're
going to find it if we have to stay here until 2 in the morning."
That was one of
the few things Mr. Kuhn said all the time we were there, but it set the tone of
As the talk
progressed it was apparent to everyone that this was a special case—such as had
never come up in baseball before and might never come up again. Eventually,
Woolf convinced me that I had an obligation to baseball that I couldn't ignore.
The game had been good to me. I owed everything I had to it. The Indians were
willing to give me a new contract through 1970.
When we left the
office Gabe Paul made the announcement.
" Ken Harrelson
will be in Cleveland tomorrow and, weather permitting, will be in uniform when
we play the Yankees tomorrow night."