So Long, Joe
The Red Sox fire a good wan for no good reason
The Boston Red Sox just don't get it, do they? On Oct. 8 they fired their 60-year-old manager, Joe Morgan, after four seasons in which they had finished first, third, first and second in the American League Fast, and hired Butch Hobson, the 40-year-old manager of their Pawtucket, R.I., Triple A affiliate. Four managers lost their jobs last week and another quit (page 38), but the biggest surprise and the biggest shame was Morgan's getting the ax.
It's bad enough that Boston canned its first skipper to finish first twice since Bill Carrigan did it in 1915 and '16. But Morgan was also a man with a delightfully sane sense of values—he went mushrooming with his grandson on the day of an American League Championship Series game last year.
He talked as if he came from a John R. Tunis novel. He would say a team was "smacking the pea around the yard" or a player was "smoking one over the bricks." Having grown up in Walpole, Mass., where he still lives, and graduated from Boston College, Morgan understood the New England mind. It didn't bother him that he was torched in the local newspapers because he knew the Sox were an obsession. In a town where every man is a baseball manager, Morgan was Everyman.
He never managed by the book, yet many of his unconventional moves worked. The Sox came up short this year, but it was hardly Morgan's fault. On the final Sunday of the season, he brought his team out onto the field and told the Fenway faithful. "Have a good autumn, a good winter, and we'll have a better year next year." It would have been better if Morgan's overpaid, underachieving players had offered a public apology. Instead, Tom Brunansky, Jack Clark and Roger Clemens let it be known that they would be happier if Morgan were out. So, two days after the season ended, general manager Lou Gorman fired Morgan. It was a disgraceful move. A good man was let go for no good reason.
That was on Tuesday. On Thursday the Red Sox announced that they were bringing back Don Zimmer as a third base coach. Zimmer, who did less than Morgan did as a Red Sox manager with more talent, will now serve as a reminder as to why the Red Sox haven't won the World Series in 73 years.
Poor CBS: The eyes of the nation were not on the ball
CBS can't get a break. Last year—its first under a four-year, $1.06 billion contract to televise major league baseball—the network lost more than $100 million on its baseball coverage (SCORECARD, Sept. 23). Then this season the baseball gods conspired to deal the network another blow when Atlanta, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, none of them in big TV markets, and a Canadian team, Toronto, won their divisions.