Wellll...I said, "That cost you $200. Now get up that runway and take your uniform off. Get it off! You're indefinitely suspended!" I'm right behind him every step of the way, getting madder all the time. All he had to do is say one more word and it's going to be $400, $600, $800. I'm praying for him to open his mouth just once, so that I can go all the way and let him protest it to the commissioner, the Supreme Court, all the way up to Marvin Miller himself.
He just went to his locker and sat there, not particularly perturbed, just kind of ignoring me.
The game isn't over five minutes before Spec Richardson, who had been listening to it back in Houston, calls to ask me what I could have been thinking of to take Cedeno out with a one-run lead. When I told him what Cedeno had called me, he didn't think $200 had been enough of a fine.
But Spec left it at $200. I'm not sure the fine was ever collected. What good would it have done? The next day Cedeno came to the park early, and when I came out into the clubhouse he walked by and said, "Hi, Skip," just as if nothing had happened. As far as he was concerned the only thing that had happened was that the Skip had got himself all excited about something or other. I reiterate, he's not a bad kid. When he got into the trouble in the Dominican Republic, I called Spec to tell him that if it would do any good I'd be glad to go down there at my own expense as a character witness.
But I made up my mind right there. I was used to the days when a manager would hop all over a player who was caught out of position, and the player would keep his mouth shut and listen. By my rules, the manager is the boss, and you respect him and you play like hell for him. If they weren't playing by my rules any more, I didn't have to play by theirs.
I told Jimmy Wynn, Doug Rader and a couple of the other club leaders that I wouldn't be back. Also Preston Gomez, one of my coaches. It was in my mind even then that if they asked me to recommend anybody—which is exactly what did happen—I would say, "No one but Gomez. You got an awful lot of Latin ballplayers on the club, good ones. I think Gomez will do as good a job as anyone in baseball."
Gomez has a good mind and he's a hard worker. He thinks and talks baseball 24 hours a day. He is also bilingual. I had called an open meeting in Atlanta earlier in the season and turned it over to him, and it was the best meeting we had all year. It went back and forth, in English and Spanish both, and when he was finished everybody applauded. His theme was that the mental and physical sides of baseball were inseparable, that if they had enough pride in themselves and what they were doing they would be anxious to take care of themselves physically. Which was something they hadn't been doing and were willing to admit, at that moment, they hadn't been doing. All I had to say when it was over was, "That's it, boys. He said it all right there."
Putting everything else aside, Gomez was the logical choice, I felt, if only because he had a better chance than anybody else to get Cesar Cedeno to play for him. And, boy, if Cedeno is ever willing to give a manager everything he has, he could just carry that club on his back.
I hadn't told Spec I would be leaving, though, and until you've told the head man you can always change your mind. The day after the season ended, I walked into the front office and told them I was through.
I still love baseball. Baseball has been good to me. And I have never been surer that I was doing the right thing. It's a different breed, boy, and they're going to keep right on doing it their way. Well, I'm a guy who has to do it my way.