Inside Stories From A Major-League Locker Room
by Jim Ksicinski
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Gene seemed almost as straitlaced as a bible school teacher, but every now and then he would surprise you. Early in the 1987 season, Mauch’s Angels opened a series by beating the Brewers. After the game, Mauch’s locker was pretty messy, and I started to straighten it up. Gene came over and told me not to clean it.
“Don’t wash my uniform, either,” he said.
I stared at him in disbelief.
“I’m superstitious,” he said, coming as close as he ever did to breaking into a grin. I always liked a nice, tidy clubhouse and took pride in getting all the stains out of the uniforms, but I left his locker untouched.
It must have worked, because the Angels won again the next day.
When the Angels came to Milwaukee in 1986, I was looking forward to seeing Jim Slaton, an old friend who pitched for the Brewers for a long time. Jim was a good guy, and—more important—a big tipper. He was on the Angels’ roster list when they came in, but his bag wasn’t with the luggage. I found out why the next day when I read the morning paper. He had been released.
Mauch came in early as usual the first day of the series and immediately put on his uniform and started looking over his notes. He was sitting there with that very serious look on his face, and I was picking up things around the clubhouse. To strike up a conversation, I said, “Gene, when you make a player move, do you look at the consequences of the move from every angle you can?” All of a sudden, he perked up.
“Of course,” he said. “We examine a player move in its entirety, all of the ramifications. Everything. Financial. On the field. Long-term. Short-term.”
He drew a pretty good picture of how they didn’t make a move unless they thought it was the right one to make with that player at that time.
I looked at him and said, “I think there’s one thing you don’t look at.”
“Well, Jim Slaton’s the best tipper on your team, and you just released him the day before he comes to Milwaukee,” I said. “This is going to cost me some decent money. Why couldn’t you release him after you leave Milwaukee?”
That’s when it happened. I saw Gene Mauch smile. He had a big grin on his face. I had never seen that in all the years he had been coming in here.
From Jocks and Socks by Jim Ksicinski and Tom Flaherty.
Copyright © 2001 by Jim Ksicinski and Tom Flaherty. Reprinted by permission of the McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.