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The cause of Kuhn's aggravation, and ultimately Kroc's, was an interview Kroc gave in which he said that he planned to spend $10 million to improve the Padres and would pursue Joe Morgan of the Reds and Graig Nettles of the Yankees, both of whom are eligible to become free agents after this season. Kroc later apologized for his "slip of the tongue" and even promised to ignore Morgan and Nettles in the next free-agent draft. Clearly that was not good enough for Kuhn.
With the advent of free agentry in 1977, baseball stoutly decreed that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's player. The commissioner had been empowered by the owners to levy fines up to $5,000 for violations. Subsequently the limit was raised to $250,000. In the past Kuhn has zapped other clubs for tampering, but none was hit for more than $25,000.
Kuhn declined to comment on the Kroc fine, but whatever his reason, the penalty seems too harsh. To be sure, Kroc did indulge in tampering, but only in its mildest form. There are subtler, more devious ways of illegally negotiating with players. As Kroc said, "If you're going to tamper, you don't tip off the newspapers that you're going to do it."
Why was Peter Price, the manager of Le Ch�teau Champlain hotel, crawling on the ground while pushing an eight-pound medicine ball with his head? He was trying to win the appropriately named L'homme de T�te (head man) race of the second annual "Hotelympiades," staged in Montreal a few weeks ago. The games were played on the plaza of an office building complex, with a few hundred spectators looking on. And though he finished fourth, Price pronounced it "a great laugh and lots of fun."
Eleven teams representing the staffs of 13 Montreal hotels competed in six events, including the managers' medicine-ball push. Bedmaking, cake decorating and a combination three-legged race/scavenger hunt for room keys in a fountain were contested by chambermaids, chefs, reception clerks and sales personnel. The table-setting relay required that teams of waiters, waitresses and busboys deliver and pick up trays of drinks. Participants had to display both speed and neatness—no spilling, please.
The most athletic event was the bellhop's long jump, in which entrants carrying an empty piece of luggage under each arm leaped over a line of suitcases, in the manner of barrel jumping. Robert Hryciuk, of the Four Seasons Hotel, won by clearing 12 suitcases.
"That may or may not be a record," said Peter Dunn, sales manager of Le Chateau Champlain and president of the Hotelympiades organizing committee. "Actually, we don't keep records because the events are changed from year to year. But we try to keep them related to hotel duties." Asked to explain the relationship of the medicine ball race to the managers' normal work, Dunn demurred, but Price, who is Dunn's boss, suggested, "It was the only way they could think of to show us using our heads."
Dunn was last year's winner of the scavenger hunt, but did not compete this year. "I was too busy on the committee, so I just coached our team," he explained. Said Price, "Next year Dunn will participate. I guarantee it." Spoken like a true head man.