But how about McLain? "As a lawyer I prosecuted people in my day," says Short, "and even though after a long prosecution a man is acquitted, you'll find it takes him a long time to resume normal life. He has all kinds of emotional hang-ups. But the kid can come back because America loves an underdog.
"I told McLain I'd paid a hell of a price to get him, I had my reputation on the line for him. He said, 'I'll do anything to prove to you and the world that I know my business.' "
Short has been coveting McLain ever since Denny played the organ at a Minnesota banquet in Short's Leamington Hotel. He says he was not about to let the man he considers "the premier pitcher in all baseball" get away from him. "I learned my lesson with Hot Rod Hundley on the Lakers," he says. "I fined him $1,000, 10% of his salary, for partying and running around, and now that I look back at it I wish I'd let him be a natural Hundley, because I sure wasn't going to change him.
"Williams and I will try to give McLain more guidance than he got at Detroit, but I don't want to remake McLain. I didn't hire him as a priest. He may throw water on sportswriters to relax, the way somebody else sits there drinking beer. I want to get away from the whole concept of mediocrity on the Senators. When people in Washington talk about pitching they have to go back to Walter Johnson."
Will Williams and McLain get along? "I think Williams and McLain have more in common than Williams and anybody else—Williams' comment when he heard about the water-throwing incident was 'Jeez, I wish I'd thought of that.' "
Will relations between Short and Williams be strained? "Not any more than they were before the trade," says Short. "We are both easier to work with when we're winning. Last year we lost, what, 33 one-run games? I have to stay around Ted to keep reminding him how wonderful it was of me to get him back into this horse-manure business."
Williams, after all, has an option to buy 10% of the club at the price Short paid for it, and somehow in spite of all that impending bankruptcy Short has been able to sell 10% back to James Lemon—one of the men he bought the team from—at a nice paper profit. The whole business is all too confusing for anyone but a stormy petrel.