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Whenever, over the last several years, the Yankees were being counted out by such eminent authorities as Hank Greenberg, Frank Lane and Bill Veeck, we always bounced back to the top, and the proof of our formula for success, beyond the flying pennants, lies in the figures. Maybe there are some teams that can cite more sensational one-year or two-year gains, but no club in baseball history has ever remotely approached the consistent financial accomplishments of the Yankees over the last decade or more. The Pirates, I note, recently declared a $4 dividend on an estimated profit of more than $1 million in 1960, first in 14 years. Well, between 1948, when Larry MacPhail stepped out and Topping and Webb formed a two-man partnership, and the end of 1959, their total net profits before income taxes came to more than $15 million, which is a nice average of about $1.3 million per year, and that doesn't include revenue from the Stadium land deal. Attendance has ranged from 1,428,438 in 1958 to an alltime Yankee high of 2,373,901 in 1948. Unfortunately, I've never held any stock in the team, though I've been paid well. I might add, for the record, that as the club's chief operating officer I can claim a good share of the credit for the steady income—an income that resulted in such benefits as the unbroken annual continuance of the liberal pension and insurance plan in which all employees have shared, including now, of course, Casey and myself. Thus the money Casey and I got when we left was earned as part of a contractual obligation and was not in any sense, as some may have thought, a gift or a bonus.
Even taking into consideration that a dollar isn't worth what it used to be, Yankee figures are impressive. Here are a few more, just to give some idea of how this game of baseball has grown. In 1945 the operating revenue for the Yanks was $1.6 million. For 1959 the comparable figure was $6.3 million, and it is probably greater for 1960 with a World Series added. Player expenses, including salaries for managers and coaches, have risen during that period from $365,000 to $915,000. Transportation costs have almost trebled. Scouting costs have increased from $108,000 to $427,000. Obviously, everything has gone way up, and that includes the bills for aspirin.
In 1956 a group of businessmen who were then interested in buying the Detroit Tigers made me a tentative offer at almost twice my salary, but after talking to Topping and Webb I entered into a new Yankee contract instead. In 1958, when I was offered the presidency of the American League, I again said no, and we renegotiated my arrangement in New York. But, ironically perhaps, 1958 was also the year when I first began to sense trouble.
That was one of those squeaker years, you remember, when, comparatively speaking, the Yankees almost lost the pennant. As the club started slipping, Casey was subjected to the traditional second guess, and it got to Casey that some of it was sparked by the owners themselves. Even so, we pulled through for the pennant and came from behind to beat the Braves in the World Series; but when Casey came to me to sign a new two-year contract he wasn't happy. He had always signed immediately, after insisting informally that there be a two-way agreement by which one dissatisfied party could release the other from the contractual obligation; but this time, before he signed, he wanted some reassurance that the criticism he had heard did not imply a loss of faith in him. After a few days Topping and Webb apparently satisfied him, and Casey gave me his signature.
Everyone knows, of course, what happened in 1959—we did lose decisively, the only time in our 12 years of operation. Criticism went on all year and, as a sensitive man, Casey would have quit, I think, if it hadn't been for his great desire to beat McGraw's managerial record. Most of the criticism was against his two-platooning, but the fact is that we lost that year because of constant injuries to such key players as Bill Skowron, Gil McDougald and Andy Carey—Stengel had his first-string lineup intact for less than a month's play. That was the sole reason we lost, just as we won again in 1960 because we had fewer injuries than the White Sox and because we were able to come up with the better-balanced team over the course of the season.
Now, I have the utmost respect for Topping and Webb and must say that over most of the period of my general-managership they were ideal owners for whom to work in that they did not attempt to interfere with Casey's operation or mine. My fooling is that owners have the right to interfere if they want to. After all, it's their ball club and their money. But I think the records will show that front-office interference generally hurts a ball club more than it helps. Dan Topping now sees most home games, and he apparently has reached a point where he feels that, as resident co-owner, he should assume a greater and more active responsibility in the over-all operation of the Yankees. Del Webb sees considerably fewer games, but he, too, has increasingly come to voice his opinions. Of course, as I said, that is the privilege of both.
A changed attitude
However, in 1960, in addition to continued criticism of Casey's moves, I felt that I was more or less being placed on the spot for the first time. I have always made it a point, out of courtesy, to discuss any deal I was considering with Topping, since I saw more of him than Webb. Shortly after midseason, when we were just dillydallying along at a .500 pace, I suggested a couple of moves which were questioned. We finally came through and won, after I was permitted to bring up Pitcher Bill Stafford and acquire Pitcher Luis Arroyo and Pineh Hitter Dale Long but, nonetheless, I sensed a changed attitude, as of course did Casey.
Another deal I wished to make was for the veteran Kansas City pitcher, Ned Garver. Along about August, I wanted to make a deal for Garver because I had studied his long record and noticed that he usually did well at the end of a season. I had also heard that Freddy Fitzsimmons, the fine former National League pitcher who was coaching for the A's, had taught Garver a knuckleball, and that's a pitch that can keep a veteran going indefinitely if he can master it. Duke Maas wasn't pitching good ball for us, and Parke Carroll, the A's general manager, was willing to trade man for man. I went to Topping and told him about the deal, and he flatly said, "No, we don't want to make any more deals with Kansas City." I asked him why he had had this sudden change of heart, and pointed out that everyone had waived on Garver—which eliminated possible criticism, but he was adamant. It was the first time that sort of thing had happened. Incidentally, I got out Garver's record the other day: after the deal fell through, besides shutting us out, he beat Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit—he had a 1.85 earned run average and has since been chosen by Los Angeles as one of their $75,000 purchases.
While we're on the subject of dealing with Kansas City, let me say this: all of our trades with the A's were absolutely fair, and the fact that there were so many of them was simply because the late Arnold Johnson, the A's president, had a tough, practical attitude about dealing with us. It's true that Johnson was a friend who had bought the Yankee Stadium from Topping and Webb (when he purchased the Athletics he had to dispose of the Stadium), but we didn't trade with him just because we knew him. He had a last-place club to build up and, unlike the rest of the league, which refused to trade with us for fear of making us stronger, Johnson's attitude was, "Why not? I'm out to improve the A's, whether it helps the Yanks or not." So naturally we gravitated together, though we never stopped trying to make deals with other clubs too. Neither did Johnson, and he made quite a few, especially with Detroit.