Stone went to the White Sox for $60,000, the fourth-puniest free-agent contract of the 24 signings. He pitched for two seasons, then signed a four-year contract with the Orioles in 1978. His career took a wondrous jump in 1980 when he finished 25-7 and won the American League Cy Young Award, but the arm troubles grew worse and he retired a year later. He became better known after baseball than he had been while playing. Even when he won the Cy Young he somehow remained anonymous. He remembers opening the box that contained the award. "The drums were rolling. My heart was beating, and then I take the plaque out and I read, Steve... Carlton?" The inscription read, STEVE CARLTON, MOST VALUABLE PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE. They'd mailed him the wrong Cy Young.
"The day after I retired, my agent got a call from ABC," Stone says. "They were wondering if I wanted to try some broadcasting. I jumped. I recognized that this was the brass ring, and that it could keep me around baseball."
His two sports bars in Arizona are called Harry and Steve's Chicago Grill. Broadcast partner Caray is also business partner Harry. The bars are shrines to Chicago sports. Ivy hangs from the wall in a re-creation of Wrigley Field. More visitors from the North, looking for a spring training that has stalled, wander in from the sun. Stone is waiting.
"I make more money now than I ever did from baseball," he says. "Sure."
Set For Life?
"Yeah, if I never want to eat again—if I want to weigh about 106 pounds."
The old-time ballplayer would retire and open a tavern in the center of town, become a barkeep. The new ballplayer can be a restaurateur. One restaurant can become a string of restaurants. A chain. The amounts that can be gained are larger. The amounts that can be lost are also larger. Nothing, alas, is guaranteed.
His right arm sometimes locks on him. If he drives for a while, right hand at the top of the wheel, the arm will become frozen at a 90-degree angle. If he watches television, hands behind his head, the arm will become frozen again. If he tries to pass the peas or open the door or do any of the dozens of daily movements that ordinary people do, he will find that the arm is out of control. He will have to move his right arm with his left hand. Jump-start it. Adapt.
Wayne Garland needs surgery on his rotator cuff again.
"I'm just waiting for an appointment in Birmingham," he says. "The specialist. Dr. Andrews. I'm waiting for an opening. He's a busy man."