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That winter he asked for $100,000.
If we had won the pennant, or made a lot of money at the gate, it still would not have been a reasonable request, but under the circumstances it was impossible. I said, "Tony, you can't get that much, not for just one good year."
And it started. We'd talk, and he'd go down a little—to $90,000, to $85,000. And we'd talk some more. "Tony, if we'd won the pennant—" O.K., $75,000.
The newspapers got into it, implying that Horton was acting like a prima donna, and when the season started the fans got on him unmercifully. It affected his play. He got off to a bad start. After a long, long hassle, he settled for a $15,000 raise. And in 1970 he wound up having a nervous breakdown.
Tony Horton hasn't played an inning since. I don't necessarily believe it was my fault, but I was the general manager and I had had to see the situation from both sides. Here was a fine young man in his prime, with everything ahead of him. A wonderful kid with wonderful parents. I can't help but take it personally. It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me in baseball.
As things developed I doubt if I could have created more resentment in Cleveland if I had hired a crew to help me. By the time I got through alienating everybody I was hard put to find support. A manager's job is to keep the morale and the contributing level of the players at their peaks. That's the tough part. Handling the pitching staff is the top single tactical item. Statistics and knowing when to rest players are not such a big deal. Handling the press shouldn't be difficult, but you can't fight the press day after day and do a good job. I tried it in Cleveland and I know it can't be done.
In 1968, my first year, the Indians won 86 games and finished third in the American League East, their highest finish in nine years. I was named Good Guy of the Year by one Cleveland poll. By 1970 I couldn't have gotten a vote for Good Guy of the Minute. What happened was that in the middle of the '69 season, when Vernon Stouffer, the chairman, offered me the chance to be both manager and general manager, I accepted eagerly.
Gabe Paul, who had been general manager, was kicked upstairs to "president." He got word of the change in advance, and more or less asked me not to take the GM job, and when my acceptance was imminent he sent messages to my room in New York where we were on a road trip. I didn't answer them. I knew Mr. Stouffer was going to announce the change that week and I didn't want to lie to Gabe.
So from the beginning Gabe was resentful and bitter, and I don't blame him. He'd hired me, and I'd wound up with his job. And I very seldom went around to his office to chat. I could have learned a lot from Gabe Paul. He's a smart man, and the Yankees are lucky to have him.
Every day in The Plain Dealer there was something new to get me aggravated. I thought in 1970, after we had slumped in 1969, that the Indians were coming back, but I was so much at war with the Cleveland press that I was always distracted. We fought tooth and nail over every issue, and if we couldn't find one we went looking.