March 8, 2007: Good Old Days: Cashen Nipped Player 'Revolt'
It was a glorious day at the ballpark. Warm, slight breeze, sunny and all the Orioles were still feeling good about themselves after having drilled the Dodgers four straight in the 1966 World Series.
The pitchers had been in spring training for about a week, lobbing the ball, jogging to cover first base and fleeing the clubhouse by noon to go play golf. Tough duty.
All the position players were in camp for the first time save for Luis Aparicio, who of course was having visa problems, another way of saying he didn't want to show up for four or five more days. Even Boog Powell was there, despite being unsigned, another way of saying he wanted to fish for another week.
Suddenly, the clubhouse door slammed shut after all those nosy reporters (four) had been told to go bother someone else and the players gathered 'round to elect a player representative.
Surprisingly, Steve Barber was accorded the "honor" and his immediate assignment was to go out and inform the non-print media that henceforth a new access rule would be in effect. Barber's audience was the four guys from the three newspapers in town and a couple of sports directors from Baltimore television stations, Jack Dawson (Channel 2) and Vince Bagli (Channel 11). John Kennelly (Channel 13) must have been stuck at a drawbridge.
"From now on," the newly-minted player representative said, "there will be a charge of $50 for television interviews and $25 for radio interviews."
Listeners shrieked with laughter. But the best reaction came from Dawson, who took the pipe out of his mouth and shouted down to his cameraman past first base, "Wrap it [the equipment] up, George, we're heading back to Baltimore."
A quick press conference was held with Barber, during which he either answered "I don't know" or "they didn't tell me." Finally, Orioles' spokesman Frank Cashen appeared on the field. Everyone made a beeline for him. "Frank, what do you think of the new player rule?" he was asked.
Cashen rolled his eyes and said, "Oh no, what did they do now?" He was informed of what the players had decided and replied, "Excuse me, fellas, I'll be right back."
Into the clubhouse he strolled, talked for a few minutes and returned, stating, "Forget what you just heard. The new rule has been rescinded." Cashen walked away, shaking his head.
In due time, the players emerged from the clubhouse, several of them with looks of embarrassment on their faces. Barber said that he had lost his job as player representative after no more than 30 minutes in the position, which surely is a major league record.
As it turns out, just three players voted against this attempted extortion. Try as we might over the next couple decades, a couple of us could not pry the names of those three intelligent human beings loose. In retrospect, it would have been interesting to see how the rule would have held up when the phalanx of media types from New York and Boston showed up.
Hey, maybe this is where the current crew of Birdbrains got the idea for their front office types not being subjected to questions from fans when they are interviewed by anyone other than their flagship station.
Yes, the proud moments just keep on coming for our beloved Birds, don't they?
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Wow, how about those lacrosse people? All they want for their Hall of Fame museum and arena is a valuable chunk of real estate downtown on the water, plus help from the city and state for half the $25 million cost. Hey guys, why not ask the Feds to sign over Fort McHenry to you?
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A handful of leftover questions:
When Barry Bonds left Pittsburgh for San Francisco a dozen years ago, he wore a 10-1/2 shoe. Now, he wears a size 13. Can you spell human growth hormone?
Tell me, is there a worse casting job than the 5-foot-7, 140-pound kid who plays quarterback for the Dillon Panthers on "Friday Night Lights?"
Did I read right that Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were big on sleepovers a while back?
Hey, what happened to the back half of tennis star Justine Henin-Hardenne's name? Did she sell it or did the rights fee run out?
If Tom Davis is "baseball in Baltimore," what does that make Jim Henneman, Stan The Fan and Phil Wood, chopped liver?
How come Mike Flanagan isn't funny anymore now that he works for the barrister?
Here's a tip for all you dyed-in-the-wool Yankee fans out there. The Hamilton Collection, an outfit that deals in plates, knick-knacks and other collectibles, is introducing "A Tribute to the New York Yankees" and their incredible legacy with an expertly-engineered foot-long hauler (trailer truck) featuring action-packed portraits of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Only $45.
Issue 2.10: March 8, 2007