Griffith, the last American League owner to depend solely on baseball for income, was coping until the late 1970s. His teams had won the American League pennant in 1965, and division titles in 1969 and '70; by the early 1970s the Twins ranked among the league's top three teams in salary structure. Then in 1976 came free agency, and that turned baseball into an auction block for the Steinbrenners, Autrys and Turners. Griffith's best players began to play out their six years of service and leave, or they would be dealt so the Twins could unload their soaring salaries, and Griffith came to be viewed as either a champion of financial sanity or the most miserly of old coots.
•Bud Selig, Brewers owner: "He could turn out to be the smartest one of us all. His franchise is in a helluva lot better shape than many others, without all those deferred payments that most of us have to make."
•Butch Wynegar, former Twins catcher, dealt to the Yankees: "He claims he's losing money. He's got it stashed in the cobwebs of his vault. What a relief to get out! The players think the organization's a joke."
•Bill Veeck, former White Sox owner, who once tried to explain to Griffith the hopelessness of hanging on: "It's not just that he marches to his own drum; I don't even think he hears anyone else's. He doesn't identify with the fans—never has. He doesn't do things because they're good p.r. or politically smart. It's a strange thing to say, with that big fat belly of his, but in a perverse way I find him gallant."
•Minneapolis cabby: "He only turns up the stadium lights for flyballs."
•Griffith: "You don't see anyone with 50 years of age or responsibilities hollering about me. It's the young ones that never had to make a bigger decision than what subject to take. I don't mind being called a dinosaur. A dinosaur, from what I've seen on TV, is a pretty powerful person. A dinosaur usually pushes himself around to where he doesn't get hurt."
Gaetti, who signed on March 18 for about $70,000, leaving two unsigned Twins at the end of last week, still has a question: "Is Mr. Griffith in baseball to win or just to cut corners so he can stay?"
IS IT GOODBYE FOR TWINS 'STARS'?
TWINS TRADE DANNY FORD
CAREW BLASTS GRIFFITH FOR NOT SIGNING MARSHALL
In the autobiography in Griffith's mind, he was born in 1922 at age 10 in the back seat of a Franklin sedan. In the front seat sat the Washington Senators' owner Clark Griffith. In the back sat young Calvin and his 9-year-old sister, Thelma. The children thought they had driven to Washington to visit Uncle Clark for a summer vacation. They would never go home again.