To get back to my
insistence upon naming my own lineup, the player we argued about mostly was me.
Or to put it another way, Pee Wee Reese. Larry always signed me to two
contracts, one as a manager and the other as a player. The first one, if I
remember right, totaled $17,500, so it was probably $12,500 and $5,000. It was
the opportunity I had been looking for; I would have paid for the chance. Once
MacPhail was convinced I could do the job, he pushed me up very quickly.
Reese had been
playing for Louisville. The Red Sox, who had a working agreement with
Louisville, had first rights on him, and the story is that Joe Cronin, their
playing-manager shortstop, went down to look at him and came]back to tell Tom
Yawkey, the Boston owner, that Reese was a pasty-faced kid who wouldn't make
So Reese suddenly
was available, and MacPhail sent Ted McGrew, his chief scout, down to look him
over. McGrew came back talking in such superlatives that Larry got the bank to
buy the Louisville franchise just to get him. Pee Wee was 21 years old when I
first saw him in spring training, and he looked 12. I took one look at him and
I said to myself, Leo, you can rest your aching tootsies.
hear of it. Having bought a whole ball club to get a young shortstop, he kept
firing me for not playing shortstop myself. He knew I was the premier fielding
shortstop in the business, see, because everybody had told him I was. "That
was six years ago, Larry," I'd tell him. "I'm 34 years old."
"You can play
another two or three years," he would say.
Sure I could. I
could also see balls going by me by a yard that I used to get like nothing.
"We're talking about something I know a little about, Larry. Reese would be
in front of those balls, waiting. What we got here is a diamond that you found
in Africa. What we got to do is polish the diamond up, and he is going to be as
good a shortstop as they ever heard of in the major leagues."
you $5,000 to play shortstop!"
going to be the shortstop!"
not out at shortstop tomorrow, you're fired!"
It went on like
that for three years, and the only time I played shortstop was when Reese was
hurt, which kept me very busy in his first year and practically retired me