When I walked into
the Kansas City ball park the day after the Senators sold me back to the
Athletics in 1967, Alvin Dark and I practically fell into each other's arms.
After talking awhile, he said, "O.K., Hawk, I'm going to let you watch a
couple of ball games. I know what you've been through with Gil Hodges and I
want you to clear your mind. I watched you when we played Washington and I know
you've got your stroke back. You're ready to break loose at the plate and
really help us."
I sat on the bench
for three or four games, pinch-hit a couple of times and hit the ball hard.
Then one day Alvin said, "Are you ready?"
"I'm all set,
"O.K. From now
on you're my first baseman."
Alvin moved Ramon
Webster from first base to the outfield, and life looked rosy to us all. We
were pulling together, winning our share of games and, although fiddling around
the cellar, had a shot at eighth or seventh place—and I was going crazy at the
plate. My average when I rejoined Kansas City in early June was .203. By
mid-August I was hitting .273, which meant that I had hit .305 in the 2� months
since leaving Washington.
I did have one
problem. Charlie Finley continued to take money out of my salary. I don't
really know how much I still owed him—maybe five or six thousand—and he took
huge bites from my biweekly check. It got so bad that I found myself working at
half pay. On the 1st and 15th of the month Finley was milking me dry. Sometimes
I got as little as $150 and had to call my mama for financial help. Alvin
finally went to Finley and begged him to let me keep what I was earning.
going great guns," Alvin said. "You'll probably be giving him a big
raise anyhow. Why can't you let him alone for now?"
refused. I guess he felt I had to make up for the money he still hadn't
collected. There was one other little cloud on the horizon. Alvin and Finley
weren't getting along too well. They continued to argue over little things,
just as they had before, and I got the idea that Charlie was getting ready to
change managers again. Alvin was finishing his second season, and Charlie
rarely kept anyone around that long.
however, came in the strangest way. It started with an airplane ride from
Boston to Kansas City on Aug. 3 at the end of a long road trip. There is no use
recounting all the details of that celebrated flight now, except to say that
nobody on the team did anything wrong. No player got drunk. There was no
yelling back and forth, no monkeying around with the stewardesses, no
unsolicited conversation with other passengers, nothing that anyone had to be
ashamed of. It appeared to be just a routine flight. None of us staggered off
the plane in Kansas City and none of the wives who met the plane thought anyone
acted unusual. But, as we prepared to leave for Washington on Aug. 15, Alvin
said, "We're not going to have any drinks on the flight." He didn't
explain why and nobody asked. We often flew on planes where no liquor was
But when we
reached Washington we were stunned to learn that Finley had suspended Lew
Krausse and fined him $500 for "being drunk and disorderly" on the Aug.
3 flight. Why Finley waited so long or why he picked on Krausse is something
I'll never know. If I ever heard of a bum rap, that was it. I knew Krausse
hadn't had more than two drinks because he sat right in front of me for the
entire flight. And he certainly was neither drunk nor disorderly.