Bye Bye Vern Rapp, please tell us it ain't so.
Bye Bye Vern Rapp, hate to see you go.
We'll miss your bunting signs,
The way you tugged your belt.
Vern, would you still have left,
If you knew how we felt?
The program wasn't all spoof, though. Cardinal broadcaster Mike Shannon spoke admiringly of the man, and Rapp, reached by telephone in Montreal, was choked up by the whole affair. As things turned out, Rapp had even more reason to be pleased than he realized at the time. WHDH also conducted a telephone interview with Sheldon Bender, vice-president of player personnel for the Cincinnati Reds, in whose farm system Rapp had managed from 1969 to 1975. Until the station called, Bender hadn't known that Rapp was leaving the Expos, and he brought up Rapp's name at a meeting the next day at which the Reds' bosses were discussing whether to fire Manager Russ Nixon. One thing led to another, and it was decided that Nixon would indeed be sacked and that he would be replaced by, yes... Vern Rapp.
Although Bender stopped short of giving WHDH all the credit for the selection of Rapp as the Reds' new manager, he did concede that "Vern wasn't a candidate for the job until the station called." As for Rapp, he decided that becoming the Reds' skipper was worth unretiring for. And WHDH said it would be glad to send him the cassette recording he requested of what, for him, turned out to be a most momentous broadcast.
BAITING THE BULL
Because the designated hitter was not to be used in this year's World Series, White Sox DH Greg Luzinski continued to practice at first base during the American League playoffs, just as he had during the final days of the regular season (SI, Oct. 3). The Bull had to learn to handle not only ground balls but also teammates' barbs about his fielding. For example, before the playoff opener in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, Luzinski was complaining in the clubhouse about the seats that had been set aside for the wives of the Chicago players. "Terrible," he howled. "The Orioles gave them lousy tickets. They'll all be out in leftfield."
The other players listened to Luzinski's tirade for a while before one of them shouted back, "Better the wives in left-field than you."