"I needed that name," he explained later. "What are you going to do with a name like Kroc? You can't call your stores 'Krocs' or even 'Half Krocs.' "
The rest is gastronomic history. McDonald's has become more of an institution than a restaurant chain and much of the credit for this advance belongs to Kroc and his passion for meticulousness. Every licensed McDonald's operator is required to matriculate at Kroc's Hamburger University in Elk Grove Village, Ill., there to study not only the art of hamburger cooking but also "Quality, Service and Cleanliness," the McDonald's "QSC" credo. Degrees are awarded in Hamburgerology (with a minor in French Fries), and the graduates are dispatched forthwith to the stores.
But even after they are set up in business, the franchise operators are subject to the scrutiny of company officials, including, on occasion, the chairman of the board himself. The Padres may soon find themselves subjected to similar harassment. Kroc insists that his hamburger salesmen be neatly turned out at all times, with hair and fingernails trimmed short. "There is an esprit de corps at McDonald's that is a religion," he says spiritedly. "I don't know that much about ballplayers except that they have contracts. McDonald's people never have contracts."
The fans at least may be assured of a spotless ball park. "I like the San Diego park," Kroc says. "It is beautiful, modern and very clean. Some of these older parks are in neighborhoods out near the vinegar works. I tell you, if I had owned the Cubs, I'd have bought property in that neighborhood and fixed it up. I don't care how good the ball park looks. If the neighborhood looks bad, the park does, too. It's like having a gorgeous painting, then putting it in a frame picked out of the garbage bin."
There is a note of wistfulness to this discourse on urban renewal, for if Kroc had had the choice, the Cubs would be his team, not the Padres. He has been a Cub fan since Tinker to Evers to Chance and has long wanted to buy the team. Even after he had heard of the availability of the San Diego franchise, he decided to make one final inquiry about the Cubs.
"I got hold of George Halas, who is a good friend of P. K. Wrigley, and I told him I'd rather have the Cubs if there was any chance to get them. He said, 'No chance,' so I went ahead with the San Diego deal." Kroc's obvious willingness to part with his money might someday buy the Padres' way out of the cellar. In the meantime, he will concentrate on promoting a team that has been, at best, only languidly received by the citizens of San Diego. He has retained Buzzie Bavasi as president and will give him broad responsibilities. "I'm not going to be the type of owner who will tell the manager when to pull the pitcher. I'm no Charlie Finley. And I'm not going to run a circus, although I do think there's too much old-fogeyism in baseball."
McDonald's will not be the Padres' concessionaire. "That," says Kroc, in the appropriate idiom, "is a whole new ball-game." But he does anticipate using his company in some promotions. "F'rinstance, we could have a McDonald's Night at the ball park when each kid accompanied by a grownup could get a free Big Mac at one of our stores near the stadium."
He will resist the temptation, he says, to label his new first baseman, Willie McCovey, "Big Mac," although the former San Francisco Giant is a big man who is popularly known as "Mac." "No," says Kroc, "that would be demeaning."
The new owner is fairly bustling with plans for his new toy—earlier starting times, special events for children, park beautification—and in the interest of getting closer to it, he has asked Bavasi to find him a 100-foot yacht that he can dock in the harbor and use as a temporary residence. The yacht, he says, could also be employed to transport his players on pleasure cruises.
"I might pick five or six who have played well and take them and their wives out for a day. Or maybe I'll fly them up to the ranch or even over to Vegas for the day. It will be kind of motivation for the players. Yes, that's what we can do: we can have four, five, maybe half-a-dozen Players of the Month."