He has shaken hands sitting down, saying he is too old to get up, and now he's already telling a stranger about the small cyst he will have removed from his wrist the next day. He peers at it with the same disdain The Babe would have given a bruise from a fastball, and then he gives it the same cure. He spits on it.
Copper bracelets circle both of Griffith's wrists to hush his arthritis. He has suffered phlebitis and blood clots in his lungs and, last year, he had knee surgery. "They took out the cartridge," he says.
He points to a picture of an old white-haired man on the wall. "That's Clark Griffith," he says. "I did everything in the world to make that man happy. Everything. His eyes could pierce right through you. Look at those goddamn bushy eyebrows. When he got mad at you, it was like they were coming out and pointing at you. Next to God, Clark Griffith was it."
The look on Calvin's face and the tone of his voice suggest he might play the combination both ways, just in case. The late Clark Griffith was Calvin's uncle, the man who became his guardian when Calvin was 11 years old, changed his last name from Robertson to Griffith and groomed him to inherit the Griffith baseball team. Today, in the hallways of the Twins' offices at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, portraits of the old man hang like brooding icons.
Calvin closes his eyes. "I get vibes," he says. "Is that what you call 'em, vibes? You shut your eyes and it comes around, something comes around. I still speak to him—say, if I'm thinking about making a trade—and suddenly I'll get a feeling one way or the other. He's the one who really influenced my life. I don't really remember much about my real father.
"I've thought of this same thing so damn many times: If Clark Griffith hadn't come along and taken me out of Montreal, what would Calvin Griffith...?" He stops and corrects himself. "What would Calvin Robertson be doing today? What in hell would have really happened to me? I talk to Uncle Clark and say, 'Thank you, I hope I've fulfilled all your wishes.' "
Is it Clark's wish that makes Calvin keep the baseball team through all the criticism, all the carping agents, all the financial anguish, all the Sony Walkmans on all the young ballplayers' ears?
Griffith returns from his reverie, a little surprised, and says, "No. If the players and salaries and hair makeups had been like this when he owned the team, he would have gotten out so fast it would have been like night and day. I can hear him saying to me, 'Why didn't you get out when you had the chance?' "
SODERHOLM RAPS TWINS; IT'S MUTUAL
HISLE DECIDES TO GO ON MARKET
BOSTOCK IS CERTAIN TALKS WITH TWINS HAVE ENDED