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Harrah is a self-made player who seems to be expected to re-prove himself each season, despite increasingly fine performances at bat and in the field. Before Lucchesi succeeded Billy Martin as the Rangers' manager last July, the team's brass had toyed with moving Harrah to second or third to accommodate Roy Smalley III, an outstanding young shortstop. But Harrah is Lucchesi's type of player, an eager competitor and a willing learner. And he can hit. He batted .293 last year, hit 20 homers and drove in 93 runs. Lucchesi told him before spring training that he would be the shortstop and the cleanup hitter, and he has responded with good glovework and a .308 average. Lucchesi also told Smalley he would be the second baseman. Smalley is a special case. His father, Roy II, was a shortstop for the Cubs, and his uncle is Gene Mauch, manager of the Minnesota Twins. He was reared to play shortstop in the big leagues. But, like Harrah, he is a team player and a philosopher, even though he is only 23.
"It had always been my dream to play shortstop in the big leagues," he says. "But then I started to think about it. I was being given a chance to be an integral part of a winning team. Now that I see what kind of guys we have, I can only say that I'd rather play second base here than shortstop for any other team."
Spoken like a true Ranger. To hear most players talk, there is not a team in baseball (with the notable exception of the A's) that does not practice togetherness. Some of this is sincere; most of it has as much foundation as a protestation of undying devotion from Zsa Zsa Gabon The ideal of one for all and all for one is almost never realized, but the Rangers may be coming close.
"We're still a hungry team," says Harrah. "Except for the pitchers, most of us haven't been around long enough to get involved in too many other things, so we spend a lot of time together. It's not quite like the old days when the players traveled on trains, but a lot of us live in Texas all year and we hang around together. Take yesterday when we were rained out. You'd have expected the players to rush back to the hotel, but our guys stayed at the park for three hours. We were organizing relay races and having a good time together. This game is kind of like life speeded up. You experience everything so quickly. Even friendship."
Harrah and most of the Rangers credit Lucchesi with creating a congenial atmosphere. "Peace of mind" is another of his principles, and to this end he imposes certain rules on himself:
?Always let a player know the day before a game if he is not going to play.
?Never use the word "bench," as in, "I'm benching so and so." Say "rest" instead.
?Always put yourself in the other person's shoes. Say our young third baseman, Howell, should boot one. I'll ask myself: How would it be to be Roy Howell right now?
?Always make the extra men feel like they're part of the team.
?Never allow a player to leave your office mad.