Baseball, Chicago Style|
A Tale of Two Teams, One City
by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass
Bonus Books, 2001 | Buy the book
COLLEGE OF CONFUSION
Philip K. Wrigley, ever the pioneer, was weary of firing managers and so he came up with another of his startling innovations. Instead of giving the ax to his managers, which he had done at acceptable intervals, he decided on an unprecedented system of employing rotating head coaches.
Anyone who remains calm
"I looked up the word 'manager' in the dictionary and the definition was 'dictator,'" Wrigley announced at the Cubs' winter press conference on January 12, 1961 at the Wrigley Building. "Heavens, we don't need a dictator."
Minutes later he elaborated.
"It's like hiring a man to operate a bulldozer. If the man gets sick that doesn't mean the bulldozer has broken down. Not at all. You have another driver ready and he steps in. That isn't a bad simile, is it?" he asked, as if surprised himself.
Wrigley then realized he had forgotten something and he called for his son Bill and asked him to go to his 16th floor office and bring it down for the benefit of the photographers. It was a sign prepared by the art department of the William Wrigley Co., but obviously intended for the Cubs. The sign read:
In the midst of all this
Simply does not understand
Wrigley hung the sign around his neck, either unaware or refusing to acknowledge it was the bulldozer that needed repair. It was also another example of Wrigley's passion for divided authority. The Cubs led the league in vice presidents, all jockeying and competing for his approval.
Baseball's top three administrators were unimpressed with Wrigley's folly but were careful not to spank him in public and expressed reluctant approval. There was nothing they could do. There is no rule stipulating a manager is required.
National League president Warren Giles was the first to check in. "Certainly, Mr. Wrigley knows what he wants to do," Giles said. "But I've never heard of a team without a manager."
Asked if he thought it was a good idea, Giles replied, "I'd rather not be quoted on that."
Joe Cronin, American League president: "I'd feel a lot better with one chief and more Indians."
Said Commissioner Ford Frick: "If Mr. Wrigley wants eight coaches and no manager that is strictly his business. My only concern is that nine men must be on the field and it doesn't make any difference if Mr.Wrigley has a manager or a head coach."
Bill Veeck, baseball's leading entrepeneur and president of the crosstown White Sox, said he had long since ceased being surprised at Wrigley's ideas. Asked if he would follow suit, Veeck laughed up his sleeve: "No, I'll go along with tradition. I guess I'm just an old stick-in-the-mud."
From Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass.
Copyright © 2001 by Bonus Books, Inc.. Excerpted with permission.