The Braves were working out together until they ran out of bats and balls. "We only had two bats to start with," said Pitcher Cecil Upshaw, "and we broke both of those the second day. On top of that, Henry Aaron hit all our balls into the trees and we lost them. It's hard to practice without any bats and balls."
The Pirates also worked out together. Almost. The exception was Pitcher Dock Ellis, who told Manager Bill Virdon that practicing with the rest of the team was "kowtowing to management." "I do think," said Virdon, "that Dock is working out on his own someplace." That presumably is what Dick Allen of the White Sox is doing. Allen, who missed all of spring training, signed his 1972 contract the day the strike was called and has been missing since.
The Reds were playing basketball, which is hardly kowtowing to management, this being a game much in disfavor with the Cincinnati hierarchy since Centerfielder Bobby Tolan tore an Achilles' tendon on the court and missed all of last season. The Orioles were also playing basketball, as well as paddle ball, a game that has had a bad name in Baltimore since Colt Quarterback Johnny Unitas tore his Achilles' tendon a year ago playing it.
The Dodgers were playing soft ball. Their game against a team of Los Angeles disc jockeys somehow attracted an estimated 8,000 fans into Casey Stengel Field in beautiful downtown Glendale. The Dodgers batted cross-handed, threw wrong-handed and ran to some strange bases. Frank Robinson fell down under an imaginary pop fly. The score was 8-8. The Dodgers are obviously in mid-season form.
Willie Mays of the Giants showed up at Candlestick Park to collect some equipment so he could work out and was summarily rebuffed by a clubhouse attendant who didn't recognize him. Willie Mays.
Gary Nolan of the Reds was recognized, to his embarrassment, in a Cincinnati restaurant at lunch one day. "Get out of here, Nolan!" a diner shouted. "Remember what we did to the Royals." This was a reference to the poor fan support that caused the National Basketball Association team to flee Cincinnati for Kansas City. And Nolan's teammate, Johnny Bench, was recognized on the golf course by an old business friend who wanted to complain to him about the inequities of his own pension plan. Bench did not tip his cap.
In Anaheim one fan was organizing his own union—the United Baseball Fans of America—which will contest such critical issues as rising ticket prices, fan comfort, quality of play and...players' strikes. "The only way the club owners and the ballplayers are going to recognize the view of the fans," a UBFA statement read, "is through united action of the people who are actually paying the bills."
Jackie Jensen, who won the American League's Most Valuable Player award 14 years ago, is not a member of the fans' union, but he was assuredly with it in spirit.
"There are now 26 players getting over $100,000," said Jensen from his Carson City, Nev. home. "I can't believe that all of them are worth it. But I'll tell you one thing: if any fan, including me, goes out to a ball game to see a $100,000 guy play, I expect him to be a super-super player. ... I think playing baseball is a privilege. I enjoyed it, and it was a game to me. It doesn't look like it is anymore. And if it isn't, it isn't going to be much from here on in—either to the fans or the players. And I think that's a tragedy."
A gloomy and melodramatic forecast, perhaps. When the players return, the fans will be there. But Jensen may be right: they may be looking at the game a little differently.