Turned out she
was a nightclub singer. Got herself a lot of publicity and was promptly hired
by a Cincinnati club that billed her as the only woman ever to come to bat in a
big-league ball game.
As soon as
MacPhail came to Brooklyn—in 1938, the same year I did—things began happening
there, too. He started by getting permission to play night games, making Ebbets
Field the second major league park to install lights. In our first night game
the opposing pitcher was Johnny Vander Meer, who had pitched a no-hitter his
previous time out. So what does he do in the first night game played at Ebbets
Field but become the only man ever to pitch two consecutive no-hitters. And now
a question for all you trivia fans: Who do you think made the 27th out? Right.
In the ninth inning Vander Meer walked three men, and there I was with the
bases loaded and two out. I hit the ball just as good as I could hit it, a line
drive which Harry Craft, the Reds' fine centerfielder, caught off his shoe
The only thing
Larry didn't have was a ball club. We were awful. With three weeks left in the
season Burleigh Grimes told me that he wouldn't be coming back as manager.
"Leo," he said, "why don't you apply for the job?"
I wanted it so
bad I could taste it. Still, there are certain amenities that must be observed
in baseball. I said, "No, you're the manager of this ball club, Burleigh. I
To which he said,
just as I had anticipated that he would, "I'm already gone, Leo. MacPhail
just told me."
When I went in to
see Larry, he looked at me like I had 22 heads. "What makes you think you
can manage a ball club?" he roared. "You've never managed one before.
What makes you think you can handle 24 other players? You can't even handle
yourself. What makes you think you're smart enough to handle a ball
Well, there was
one thing I knew I had, and that was confidence. And that's the main thing you
need when you apply for your first managerial job. When you walk in there like
that, what you really are saying is that you have the brains, the experience,
the leadership ability and the will to win. Larry obviously didn't think I had
anything but gall. "Well, I can't prove it to you sitting here in this
chair," I told him. "The only way I can prove it is out there on the
I never had been
able to handle myself responsibly? So what? That isn't what players look for or
respect you for. They're not college students, they're professional athletes.
Physical men. They respect the pitcher who knocks them down and the base runner
who bowls them over. They respect the guy who picks up the big pots in the card
games. They respect the guy who lives hard and flies high.
All I needed was
the opportunity, I had told MacPhail, and he had made it perfectly clear that I
wasn't going to get it from him. "You a manager?" he said. "That's
the funniest thing I ever heard." But remember what I said. If you have
never been a manager before, it's all a matter of being in the right place at
the right time. Since I knew I wanted to manage eventually, I had got into the
habit of going to baseball meetings whenever they weren't being held too far
from my home in St. Louis. Just to show myself. Just to stand around and talk
to the men who were going to be in a position to hand out one of those precious
The Cubs, of
course, were in the 1938 World Series. I had already spent a couple of days
hanging around the lobby of the Congress Hotel in Chicago when a message came
to me to go up to MacPhail's suite. I walked in and found him there with one of
his relatives. Larry turned to him and out of a clear blue sky he said, "I
want you to shake hands with the new manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers."