Since becoming the majority owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner has made 12 managerial changes. Charlie Finley, who made 15 changes as the owner of the Kansas City and Oakland A’s, told Jerome Holtzman of the Chicago Tribune: “He’ll break my record. I’ll bet on that.
“But remember,” Finley added, “I never hired the same manager four times. The most I ever had was twice. I had Alvin Dark twice. The second time, he won a world championship for me. By that time, I had him trained. Steinbrenner still hasn’t trained Billy Martin. I really think Steinbrenner is a crackpot.”
Wasn’t Martin among Finley’s many managers?
“For one year,” Finley said. “I’d talk to him every day, tell him what to do, who to play, who to pitch. The club was in first place. Then I made the mistake of going to Europe. When I came home, we were fourth.”
No doubt it’s slipped his mind, but Finley also hired Hank Bauer and Jack McKeon twice.
Add Holtzman: He said that San Diego Manager Dick Williams was quoted during spring training as saying, “I can’t wait to get to Chicago to hear the boos.”
Reminded of the remark when the Padres first arrived in Chicago to play the Cubs, Williams said his quote was garbled.
“What I said was, ‘I can’t wait to get to Chicago to drink all the booze.’ ”
Trivia Time: Who holds the major league record for highest fielding average among outfielders who played in at least 1,000 games? (Answer below.)
Now-it-can-be-told dept.: Writes Bill Conlin, reminiscing in a farewell column at the Sacramento Bee: “Jack Dempsey called me one day and said, ‘You quoted me as saying I was going to support George Murphy for United States senator.’ I said, ‘That’s what you said when you were out here last week.’
“He said, ‘I know I did, but I’m in a terrible bind. You know who’s running against George Murphy? Gene Tunney’s son. I can’t go against Gene Tunney.’
“He says, ‘You gotta get me outta this. Tell ‘em I’m gonna stay neutral.’ ”
Larry Bird is not the most popular player in the NBA, according to Peter May of the Hartford Courant.
May said Billy Cunningham was upset that the Boston forward failed to congratulate the 76ers after they had beaten the Celtics in the 1980 and 1982 playoffs.
Said Bird: “I’m not happy to get beat. I’m not a good loser. A good loser’s always a loser. I said once that I was sorry we lost, but I was glad Doc had a chance to get a ring. But I’m not going to go over and tell them that after he just beat my butt.
“It’s not my duty to go over there. You go out and bang heads with ‘em, fight, scratch, do everything you can and then you wanna go over and shake hands with ‘em? Nah.”
Gordie Howe, whose son Mark plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, had this to say about Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers: “He’s so smart. He’s constantly circling so he can see everything on the ice. I sometimes think that if you part his hair, you’ll find another eye.”
Trivia Answer: Pete Rose, with a percentage of .9916.
Johnny Kerr, former University of Illinois and NBA center: “Bobby Knight doesn’t have ulcers, but he is a carrier.”