- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"I'd been hustling for 30-some years, so it was good for me to step out of the rat race, heh? So I straightened things out, and then I married Jean—you remember Jean, my secretary—but eventually Florida wore us down, just looking at all those palm trees. Now I had a lot of offers during those years, and finally I got another call, from Musial and Garagiola and those guys, because they wanted me to look at this indoor soccer team they were going to buy. They said it had lost $600,000 the first year.
"I said, 'How?'
"They said, 'It's easy.'
"The scale is different now, heh? I remember Ned Irish, he always wanted a Jewish ballplayer to play for the Knicks in the Garden, and here comes Dolph Schayes out of college. He asked for $5,500, but Ned wouldn't give it to him because that would have meant the Knicks' payroll going over $48,000 by a few hundred, and Ned wouldn't do it, you know. So that's how the great Jewish ballplayer Ned always wanted went to Syracuse. The scale is different.
"But there's no miracles in sports. It's just if you got three things—a good team and a good schedule and good management—you put the three together, you got a chance. Now last year we made $37,000, the first soccer team in this country ever to make any money. So maybe, heh, if losing a million a year is a way of life in these sports now, then maybe $37,000 is a miracle, heh? So maybe I performed a miracle.
"Here's another line I use. I said how many home games is it in indoor soccer? What did I know? I'd never seen an outdoor soccer game, much less an indoor, heh. They said 10. Then it was 10 home games. My wife says, good, that means 10 trips to Neiman-Marcus. For 10 outfits, heh. That's a line.
"Now here in St. Louis you do have a soccer-oriented community. We got a good mix on this team, though you have to work at it. Before I was here long, I got a chance to get Tony Glavin out of Scotland and Manny Schwartz out of Israel. Finally I said, doesn't Peoria have any soccer players?
"But here, you come see the Steamers [Kerner's team], you can watch kids you saw play in parochial school. Ethnic? It's nothing ethnic. No more. The Italians, the Germans, they're part of America now. It's a night out. We get a lot of blue-collar trade. We're up to 6,000 season tickets, but we always get a lot of walk-up. Last week, for Golden Bay, I sold about 2,600 walk-up. It's an eight-dollar top, but any price ticket, buy 20, we'll give you a dollar off on them all, heh?
"And you can be part of it. That's important, you know. You can buy a season ticket for as little as $96, that's $192 for two. That's the success of football. I saw that when I was in Milwaukee, when Green Bay was there, and you could buy season tickets on the street corner, right out of your pocket, petty cash.
"The only trouble is, no franchise in any sport can survive any longer strictly off box office. You need TV and all the rest. That's hockey's problem. But it matters here that the fans can see that our players aren't spoiled yet. Yet. And we got Earl Foreman as commissioner. Without him, we wouldn't even have a league now, heh. Because Earl's hit the streets in his time, you know. So if we get TV, we might have something here.