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Branch Rickey Got Respect, Even If He Didn’t Want It

The subject was cost-cutting in major league baseball, and somebody recalled how Branch Rickey once tried to trim costs when he was general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Rickey decreed that there would be no more long-distance phone calls between farm clubs and the front office--that telegrams would suffice.

Soon after, Rickey wired Bobby Bragan, manager of the Fort Worth farm club: DO YOU NEED A SHORTSTOP OR IS PRESENT INFIELD OKAY?

Bragan wired Rickey: YES.

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Rickey wired Bragan: YES WHAT?

Bragan wired Rickey: YES, SIR.

Add telegrams: Manager-general manager Joe Engel once was having trouble signing a young player for his Chattanooga club. Finally, the player wired Engel: DOUBLE YOUR OFFER OR COUNT ME OUT.

Wired back Engel: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.

Trivia Time: Howie Bedell is the answer to what trivia question? (Answer below.)

If you wondered whether Jimmy Connors would have been the oldest Wimbledon champion at 34, it isn’t close. Arthur Gore of Britain was 41 when he won in 1909. Bill Tilden was 37 when he won in 1930.

The most remarkable performance was that of 41-year-old Pancho Gonzalez in 1969. In the longest match in Wimbledon history, he beat Charlie Pasarell in the first round, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. The match, which took two days to complete because of darkness, lasted 5 hours 12 minutes.

Rod Laver won the title that year and went on to complete his second Grand Slam. The next January, when Gonzalez was a grandfather, he met Laver in a Tennis Championships tournament match at Madison Square Garden. Spotting Laver a two-to-one lead, Gonzalez took the last two sets to win the match.

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Bill (Spaceman) Lee, on the new orange roof at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium: “It looks like the same thing George Scott wore around his waist when he was trying to lose weight.”

Add Montreal: When Ron Hunt was setting records for being hit by pitches, the Expos had this line in the media guide: “Gets good skin on the ball.”

From Atlanta Brave Manager Chuck Tanner: “We are in a bit of a slump at the moment. But we learned something from what happened last year. We know the only way out is to battle out.”

The lessons go on. Tanner has been in the cellar three straight years, two with Pittsburgh.

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50 Years Ago Today: On July 7, 1937, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in attendance at Washington’s Griffith Stadium, Lou Gehrig drove in four runs with a home run and a double to lead the American League to an 8-3 victory over the National League in the All-Star game.

Trivia Answer: He was the Philadelphia Phillie pinch-hitter whose sacrifice fly ended Don Drysdale’s record scoreless streak at 58 innings in 1968 at Dodger Stadium. Tony Taylor scored on the play in the fifth inning. The Dodgers won the game, 5-3.

Quotebook

Former Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rocky Bleier, on the supreme confidence of Coach Chuck Noll: “He’s the only man I know who bought a plane before he learned to fly.”

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