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"Depends on Durocher's health and how he's been getting along with Kaye. What makes you ask?"
The soft voice grew even more quiet. "I know a lot about the game. I can teach good. I'm fine selling cars, but I was just thinking that maybe if Leo got the managing job he might just happen to remember me."
The old Negro all-star shortstop looked out a restaurant window into twilight. "My children has grown fine," he said. "My wife's a lovely woman. I'm at peace with myself. But I didn't just love playing that game. I loved being around baseball. The big leagues is the greatest baseball in the world.
"I don't miss nothing, and I don't resent nothing, 'cept bein' turned away at DiMaggio's. But now at my age, if Leo got Seattle and hired me as one of his coaches, I could help him and be back in the major leagues again.
"I'd pray for that," Wilson said without sadness, " 'cept you just shouldn't ask the Lord for too much."
THE COUNTRY OF THE POOR
The president of the Eastern League, a round-bellied, hearty, country-slick New Englander named Paul Patrick McKernan, spends his winters teaching current events at Nessacus Middle School, outside the valley town of Pittsfield, Mass. "I have a wife and four children," McKernan said in the league office, which is the sun-room of his house. "Whatever you hear about a great American baseball boom, it doesn't apply here. The minors are a depressed area."
I have seen a list of salaries paid to major league baseball players during the 1975 season. These were not press-release exaggerations or newspaper guesses but figures printed in a private analysis called "Salary vs. Performance." You can find copies within a locked cabinet in any major league office.
There are few surprises at the top. Excluding attendance bonuses and the variety of fringe benefits that Catfish Hunter worked into his contract with the Yankees, Dick Allen's salary led the majors. The Phillies paid him $250,000. Then came Henry Aaron at $240,000. Johnny Bench at $190,000, Lou Brock at $185,000 and Willie Stargell at $181,000. Although Aaron is the only lifetime .300 hitter in the bunch, every man here has been a superstar. Every one of them has been able to argue that he put customers in the park.
The highest-paid pitcher was Ferguson Jenkins ($175,000), who is not really that good anymore, but the Texas Rangers were desperate when they signed him three seasons ago. Then came Tom Seaver at $170,000, Luis Tiant and Gaylord Perry at $160,000 and Steve Carlton and Don Sutton at $155,000. (On the advice of his tax people, Hunter has limited his straight salary from the Yankees to $100,000. He will get deferred income for many, many years.) They comprise a pitching staff most managers could tolerate.