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For a dizzy moment last week Ralph Kiner stood Organized Baseball on its head. In violation of the protective clause that says no player can have his salary reduced more than 25% in a single year, Kiner insisted he be whacked down nearly 40%. Baseball mores of course prevailed, and Ralph will be forced to accept $48,750 with the Cleveland Indians next year instead of the $40,000 he demanded.
Momentarily, however, Home Run Hitter Kiner stood out in the public glint with all the freshness and eccentricity of an Egyptian pharaoh proposing to build a pyramid upside down. Kiner, a thoughtful fellow, says no, his idea was just common sense.
He considers himself the manufacturer of a commodity?home runs. At his peak, with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1949, he manufactured 54, but last year with the Chicago Cubs (at a salary of $65,000) he produced only 22. At 32, he is geared to big money?he lives in an expensive home at Palm Springs' Thunderbird Golf Club in the winter, lives well in the East during the season, and shudders at the thought of a future out of baseball. Fair trading, he thinks, will keep him in business longer. When he was switched to the American League he set out to build up what Wendell Willkie called a reservoir of good will.
"There were players on the Cubs who resented my salary," he said, "and I didn't want any of that in Cleveland. Also?I expect to have a big year this year and I expect to ask for a raise. I've found that people treat you right if you treat them right."
No passage to Moscow
Last Spring when Soviet ice skaters were cleaning up at the world speed-skating championships in Japan, the United States was not represented. The reason? Not enough money could be raised from private sources to send a team. The State Department declined to help, saying the mission was not "meritorious enough." Soviet propagandists had a field day. "Such a rich country," they said, and everyone laughed.
Everyone laughed except Richard P. Shearman, manager of the U.S. team. He was determined that the United States would be represented at the next world speed-skating championships, which are scheduled to be held in February at, of all places, Moscow. He decided to raise the money himself, estimating that $2,500 should be enough to send a modest three-man contingent, enough to insure adequate American representation in the sprint races where American strength lies.
Last week he announced the result of his campaign. Not enough money could be raised from private sources to send more than one skater. The State Department declined to help, saying the mission was not meritorious enough.