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If Devine had me on the run, I'd let him chase me a little anyway.
He apologized most graciously for not getting in touch, engulfing me in a burst of warm wishes that we could really get together for a long talk. "There are three elements that affect a ball club's basic salary budget for players," he said, "the statistics of the player's performance the preceding year; the player's future—how long can he be expected to last; the ball club's position in the standings."
By those standards, who would get a raise? This argument, in expert hands, would obviously reduce all the Cardinals to beggary. "Bing," I interrupted, "we're not arguing about last year. Let's stick with next season, O.K.? Now, $20,000 is a symbol of success with me. When I first started playing pro ball I was making $125 a month. My goal became symbolized by that $20,000 per year. Without straining credulity too much, you might say I'm close to realizing that goal. I don't feel that I should compromise at this time."
"Life is a series of compromises," he opined. "I'd like to be making as much as I think I deserve, too."
The Shenandoah Valley glowed hospitably under a pre-spring zephyr. Soft showers stirred the apple-blossom buds. I savored some of the best freeloading in baseball. I was sipping some when the last offer came. "This is the best I can do," Devine said. "We've talked security, pennant, high cost of living, financial goals in life, prospective parenthood. Now let's get serious," he said, slowly and distinctly and finally.
"Give me five hundred more and I'll settle," I said.
"Why argue about $500?" he said.
FEBRUARY 19: The day we arrived in St. Petersburg, newspapers described the holdouts on the Cardinal club. Vinegar Bend Mizell's reaction was that of any shrewd, hard-nosed Alabama farmer who always got plenty of peanuts for his peanuts, and why shouldn't the subsidy remain the same? If the farmer has a bad year on the farm nowadays the Government still supports him in the style to which he has become accustomed. "It's a matter of principle!" cried Wilmer.
"We're still pretty far apart," said Devine.
"You can't win," said Larry Jackson, as Wilmer signed just one day before we opened.