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The second year, in fact, Jackie and I were never happier, never more content. I wanted to manage again, certainly, but if it didn't happen I was sure my life was on a better course. I wouldn't have liked being an amateur golfer the rest of my life, but I was prepared for it.
I had to be realistic. I hadn't made a lot of friends in baseball. I couldn't expect a rush on my services. But I should know by now you don't count Charlie Finley among the ordinary. Since I had left Finley's employ, we had become phone pals. I don't know how many times we talked long distance when I was in Cleveland, and when I was out of baseball there was always some problem or ballplayer or baseball tactic to discuss. When Dick Williams announced he would not return as manager last October, I called Charlie and applied for the job.
Finally, in February, he asked me, "What if I made you the manager and on the first day of spring training Dick Williams shows up and says, 'I'm the manager, here's my contract'?" At that time their contract differences hadn't been resolved.
I said, "If that happened, Charlie, all it would cost you is a round-trip ticket."
To say that I am glad to be back would be an understatement. To say that managing a two-time world champion ball club is not a little frightening would be a lie. I am impressed by the players' talent, just as I am pleased that I had a small part in getting them started so many years ago. At least it seems long ago when I realize how much they've grown.
To say that I won't, at some hectic time or another, revert to form and flip over a buffet or two, or throw some furniture around after a loss would be asking for a miracle. Though as a Christian I certainly believe in miracles.
Not all of it has been roses in my path, of course. One of the first columns I read about the "new" Alvin Dark dredged up all the old Alvin Dark stories, and once again raised the specter of "racism." I expected that. But it was a minority report, and I haven't let it spoil my home-coming, because God is in charge. A man doesn't get cured of leprosy every day.