Perhaps that is why he insisted so loudly and clearly that Cincinnati's general manager, Gabe Paul, had flagrantly broken a Columbus- Cincinnati broadcasting agreement. Paul, a genial and well-liked man, saw Cooper in Jacksonville last week and protested, "Harold, you're a damned liar, saying those things about me."
Paul was smiling as he spoke. Perhaps Gabe remembered that in The Virginian you could call a man a name if you smiled, but Cooper had forgotten his Owen Wister. His temper (perhaps because of the years of frustration) exploded, and he swung. Fortunately, Frank Shaughnessy, President of the International League, was on hand; he and others quieted Cooper. After a while the two got together, and later, quite naturally, it was announced that the dispute had been the result of a misunderstanding and that an amicable solution had been reached on the radio-TV problem.
The problem, of course, was greater than a radio-TV dispute, greater than a Cooper-Paul personality clash. It was the basic problem of the rich majors and the poor minors.
It was the problem the major leagues had belatedly recognized when they established their $500,000 fund for aid to the minor leagues. The amount of the fund didn't seem to impress the minor leaguers, who felt at first it was just a sop to keep them from asking for a share of television revenue, but the fact that Bill DeWitt, onetime head of the now-defunct St. Louis Browns and more recently top-level aide to George Weiss of the New York Yankees, has now been appointed administrator of it gave the minor leaguers hope. Maybe the majors really meant it this time.
"Personally," said one minor league general manager, "I don't like DeWitt. I never have. But people who know him better than I do say he has one of the best baseball brains in the business. So maybe this fund will turn out to be a good thing. Not because of the money. What's $500,000 spread over 200 ball clubs? What is it, $2,500 a club? That's just spitting off the roof, just a starter. But DeWitt can make it pay off. He can give clubs advice. He's been through the mill. He knows what it's like. You can't imagine how stupid some of the operations are in the minors, the things they do. They're starving for some common-sense advice. If DeWitt can use some of that money to set up a group that could go around and look at a minor league club and make suggestions...."
The minor leaguer shook his head in wonder.
"He could be the greatest thing to happen to baseball since Branch Rickey," he concluded.