"Absolutely not. Ab-so-lute-ly not," Ted said. He said managing was a pain in the butt. He said that when he was managing the Senators he used to call Joe McCarthy for counsel. McCarthy had been his favorite manager. "I said, 'Joe, when I played, I only had to worry about me. This business of worrying about 25 players is for the birds. Joe, the difference is, when we lose, my heart gets heavy and I eat a lot.' He said, 'Ted, you're lucky. I drank a lot.' "
The father and the son laughed together. On the other hand, Ted said, he does find it "fun" to help the young Red Sox hitters, but he had to admit there didn't seem to be a wealth of talent advancing through the organization. He said the way things were going he thought the Red Sox would lose their best hitter, Centerfielder Fred Lynn (which they did), and maybe their catcher, Carlton Fisk (which they did), and that meant with the trading of Shortstop Rick Burleson they'd be stripped clean down the middle. Short of a total reorganization, he said, he didn't think the Red Sox would be challenging for the pennant anytime soon.
When the smiling man and his father left, I asked Ted if it was true he'd tried to buy into the Red Sox in 1979. He said no, but that over the years he "kind of thought I'd like to be involved" in one way or another. Not in a position of total authority, but not in a subservient one, either. He said Mrs. Tom Yawkey had always encouraged him to come around—she'd gotten him to escort her to her late husband's induction into the Hall of Fame—but he'd been reluctant because there were those he felt were less than eager for his presence, most especially Dick O'Connell, the general manager, who was deposed in 1977. With O'Connell gone, he said, the atmosphere was now more salubrious, but what with his consulting work for Sears and the time he set aside for fishing, he didn't see much chance of becoming involved beyond the coaching he did in the spring.
After dinner—during the preparation of which he gave Edna extensive advice—Ted turned on the radio to pick up the Red Sox game and then settled on a sofa in front of the Franklin stove to write up his log. Scrapbook size, the log is filled with daily episodes and details—water, weather, etc.—of his salmon catches. On the first page he had written: "I start this book with 700-plus salmon, and feel I know one hell of a lot about them and may be (there's no doubt in my mind about this) one of the greatest salmon anglers."
There are notes about the flies he has used ("I feel that the Conrad is absolutely the best..."), the friends he has fished with ("So-and-so arrived, and without a doubt is the worst fisherman I know..."), about the fish he has released ("I hope she makes it to the spawning grounds...") and about the good fortune of his fellow man ("Guy across the river caught two. He was either good or lucky. Strongly suspect latter...").
A Reggie Jackson home run dampened his interest in the game, and he was about to repair to the basement to tie flies when a man and a boy in khaki clothes knocked on the door. The man was a game warden named Percy Mountain, the boy his son. By his own description, Percy is a former poacher and "hard drinker" who has "gone to the other side," giving up both pleasures simultaneously—roughly at the time when he came to the conclusion that his beloved salmon was going under.
Percy said he was on night patrol, hunting poachers in his motor-driven canoe. He said each year it got worse. He said there were now 30 federal wardens, carrying guns, covering the 400 miles of the Miramichi system, but it was a losing battle. He said the wardens were still five years behind the poachers in technology. They got walkie-talkies only after the poachers had them.
Unemployment was a big factor in the increase in poaching, Percy said. He said the more people there were out of work, the more poaching there was. He said one night he pulled up 19 nets, some of them stretching the width of the river. "It's cops and robbers out there," he said. Wardens had been shot and beaten with gas lanterns. Sometimes by relatives. One warden had lost an eye.
"Emery Bastrache [a former conservation officer] was stoned in the head one night," Ted said. "I put it in the log: 'I wonder when they're going to wake up and give these guys the authority they need.' "
Percy said they were making progress. That one poacher had been fined $1,500 and had his truck and fishing gear confiscated. But with salmon bringing $5 a pound on the black market, "a good poacher can make enough in one night to pay the usual fine."