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"You bet, Tommy," Art says back. "We're open for business."*
*"We're open for business" is a reference to one of the great stories in the history of the winter meetings. It was 1975, the meetings were at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Fla., and the owners had (against their better judgment—and on the second vote) allowed showman Bill Veeck to repurchase the Chicago White Sox. They were worried that Veeck, who in his previous life as an owner had sent a midget to the plate, would make a mockery of the game.
The next day Veeck and his general manager, Roland Hemond, set up a table and phones in the lobby of the Diplomat. And they posted a homemade sign that read: OPEN FOR BUSINESS. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Then Veeck and Hemond sat there for 14 straight hours and made four trades, the last one—Bee Bee Richard to St. Louis for Buddy Bradford and Greg Terlicky—just seconds before the midnight deadline. And the crowd cheered.
What's amazing about Art is how excited he is, even late at night, even after all these years. He pulls out his legal pad and scribbles names and numbers and gossip and lies. He talks the way baseball people talked in the old days; there's urgency in his voice. For everyone else, every sentence is conditional, every offer a trial balloon, every overture merely a conversation starter. Just as Veeck and Thrift were, Art Stewart is a man of action.
"Well, I'm always happy to talk to you, Mark," says Moore, who wasn't expecting the call.
"No, I thought it was urgent," Shapiro says. "I was told you needed to talk with me immediately."
Moore smiles and shakes his head. "Let me guess," he says. "You were talking to Art."