The Indians then were not the young team building that I dreamed of. The money wasn't available to spend, and while there were some promising young players, this was not enough. It was not a healthy situation. When you are a general manager-manager, with so much power, you are bound to be resented, so you better win quick. And this we couldn't do.
Part of the problem in that kind of situation today is that athletes and management are continually at odds. Neither side trusts the other. It seems a foregone conclusion that management will offer a pro athlete as little as possible, and the athlete will want more than he's worth. Contention is inevitable. The player is worrying about his limited career; management is worrying about inflated costs. The general manager is right in the middle, which is a place a field manager should not be. A field manager needs to be thought of as a link between management and player, not a co-conspirator.
I liked and admired Mr. Stouffer. He couldn't have been nicer to my wife Jackie and me, and all he really wanted when he got into the ownership of the Indians was to keep the club in Cleveland. But he wasn't realistic about baseball. He thought we could talk players into hitting .300. No such luck. The team was struggling, the gate was bad, and money problems pressed in on him. It didn't help any that I was at odds with everybody.
When it got too bad, in late July, he called me into his office one morning and said the only thing he could think of to do was to try another manager. It is not an unusual solution in baseball. The press had been hard on him, too. The columnists made so much fun of him that his wife quit reading the papers.
I said, "Mr. Stouffer, thank you. It's your club. I'm sorry I failed you." And that was that.
The team passed into the hands of Johnny Upon, one of my coaches, and poor Johnny really had a handful. The Indians won only 10 of their last 45 games, and he was fired, too. The next spring Mr. Stouffer sold the club.
I don't think I was necessarily a bad manager in Cleveland, though I admit to not having the taste for managing that I had in Kansas City, but my press relations were abominable. And my human relations weren't much better. Uzziah Dark had had his comeuppance.
The leprosy was hard to live with for a while. I had 2� years on my contract, which kept us in groceries. But the chance to vindicate myself, to manage again, didn't come. Wishing for it didn't help a bit. The telephone never rang. And I have to think there were more than a couple general managers around who were tickled pink I had failed.
I was bitter for a long while, but then I came to realize that it was me who had been at fault. There was no one else to blame. I had been on an ego trip. I had punched my own ticket, and I had reached the end of the line. As a Christian I had been about as un-Christlike as I could have been. And when I came to that realization it all fell into place. The rest, if painful, was easy.
I wrote letters to every man I thought I had offended with my actions in Cleveland, including Gabe Paul and the writers. I did it for no other reason than to apologize, as a Christian should. In retrospect, I think those two years-plus were as important to the spiritual education of Alvin Dark as any 10 years of my life. More important.