The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - October 2, 1989 - Page 3
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The former Clevland Indians pitcher
lets people know exactly how he feels
With the baseball's regular season concluding
yesterday, we felt it would be timely to find out
what one of the game's greats thought of this
eventful baseball year. Daily Sports Editor Mike
Gill turns to former Clevland Indian great and
Hall-of-Famer, Bob Feller, for his observations.
Feller was selected as baseball's greatest
living right-handed pitcher in 1969 as part of the
sport's centennial. Feller teamed with Bob
Lemon and Herb Score to form possibly the
toughest pitching staff ever.
Daily: May I ask you a few questions?
Feller: Not necessarily so.... Hell, I get
calls from you kinds of people all the time. How
much time do ya need?
D: Ten minutes.
F: You got five and I'm watching the clock.
D:With all that has happened to Pete Rose,
does he deserve entry into the Hall of Fame?
F: You can scrub that question.
As far as I'm concerned, only time will tell,
like it does with anything else in life. Only time
will tell. That's the best answer I can give you.
D: What is your opinion though?
F: I told you, that's it.
D: Okay. Well, as far as the baseball season's
concerned, what ever happened to the Cleveland
Indians and what do they have to do to turn it
F: Well, they need a stronger bench. They
* have to have fewer people on the 21-day disabled
list. That's the main thing. The catching, shall
we say, has been average.
'Baseball never missed Pete
Rose. They got along without
Babe Ruth, Judge Landis, Abner
Doubleday - they'll never miss
him....Christ, we got along
without George Washington and
The weak bench, too many pitchers came
down with bad arms or problems, the hitting was
streaky, and didn't have any consecutive hitters
- in other words they'd get nine hits, but they'd
be in all different innings. That's the main thing.
It's a combination of a streakiness, and the
inability to hold a lead.
D: Are you surprised the Detroit Tigers had
such a downfall this year?
F: I was very surprised. And I was very
surprised that Sparky Anderson couldn't take the
facts of losing. I'm very surprised.
D: Do you believe Anderson left because of
exhaustion or did he just want time off from the
F: I don't know because I don't know that
much about it; if it was exhaustion or what he
was doing, but he probably took it all too
serious. After all, it's only a game. I mean,
* everyone works hard at it, but he never said no to
4l these social engagements and extra-curricular
activities, which is hard to do sometimes, but
you have to do it.
First thing you know, your extra-curricular
activities are going to be superseding your
business that you are supposed to be taking care
of. That happens to ballplayers and professional
people from all walks of life. You can get all in-
volved in charities and front-runners and free load-
ers. You have to be able to say no and mean it.
D: When you were in your heyday, was this
a problem or has this just recently become a
F: Oh, it's all about the same. You have to
get rid of the freeloaders. A lot of times, the ones
you consider your best friends are your worst
enemies. They want to be seen with you and they
want to take you around to exploit you. They are
still pretty good friends with you but they kinda
like to be seen and bask in the glory of someone
in public life. It goes on all the time in all sports
and all businesses. Everyone wants to be a
D: How were you able to distinguish who
were sincerely your friends and who were trying
to use you?
F: Well, if you have a decent background,
brought up by parents, they teach you that when
you were a kid. You have to make that decision
yourself. It's not all that tough - knowing
human nature. It's not all that tough.
It really isn't that hard. But some are pretty
persistent and all you have to do is be firm. To
be a loner is not a bad idea. Most all great people
of all walks of life were successful are loners
basically. They have to have their own private
time. You have to have your own private time to
organize plan and think and to put your act
together. You can't be around with all these
people who are frontrunners.
You see around the college campus anybody
- the football heroes and all this, that's the
problem. It's in all sports and in all business.
You've got to make up your mind that you're
going to be a loner part of the time and have
your own private time and stick to it and don't
D: On a ballclub, how many would be loners
compared to those who would hang with a
F: I don't know different percentages. I
wouldn't know what it is. Most all the young
guys go through a period of time where they
have to sort out the free loaders and ne'er-do-
wells, and promoters and so forth. They get too
involved in signing autographs in department
stores or at card shows. Off-season, it's okay. I
don't have any idea what the percentage would
be. Too big a percentage, incidentally. More than
it should be.
D: Returning to this year's baseball season,
do you have any doubts that baseball can or has
recovered from a very tough year with Pete Rose,
Wade Boggs, Steve Garvey, the death of the...
F: Baseball never missed Pete Rose. They
got along without Babe Ruth, Judge Landis, Ab-
ner Doubleday - they'll never miss him. Sad
but true. That's the way it is. Christ, we got
along without George Washington and everybody
else. The worst thing that happened was that the
commissioner died. He was a great man, not only
for baseball, but for the United States of
America. He was a great man. When I talked to
him at Cooperstown and visited with him - I
gave a talk at the Hall of Fame - he asked me
to speak. I told himthen that he would dothe
right thing. I still think he did. Completely
correct. Completely right.
D: I heard him speak at Michigan. He had
complete control of the language and was very
F: He was very intelligent and I think he
would have probably been the best commissioner
baseball has ever had including Landis.
D: Just because of his feelings for the game,
or because he put his foot down on Pete Rose?
F: Feelings for the game, nothing to do with
Pete Rose. But he showed guts.
D: They say the new commissioner (Fay
Vincent) is supposed to follow in Giammatti's
F: I think the new commissioner is going to
be as good a man. Nobody's gonna duplicate
Giammatti. The new commissioner, knowing
him as I do, will do an excellent job.
D: Do you expect in future years they will
look at the gambling rule and change it, since
you can be a drug addict and not be kicked out?
F: I would hope not. I would hope not.
Because of the decline of morals all across the
world, it's possible. It's not a good thing. I
would hope not.
D: Well then, on the other hand, would you
wish they made the drug rule stricter?
F: I would like to see them give them at
least one chance to make a comeback. If not,
when the employee's best interest becomes more
important to the boss or the people in charge
become more important to them than the
individual, the employee, then it's time to shake
hands and part company. I think that goes in
most any business. Give them one chance.
D: What's the biggest change in the game
you've seen since you retired?
F: The media, show business. It's stayed
about the same between the white lines - with a
lot of exceptions, but not that many. The
numbers are getting to be a big joke, like guys
stealing bases when they are down by ten or ten
ahead with two outs in the ninth. You're running
up numbers. Statistics are highly overdone but
they are even worse in Japan than they are here. I
coached over there one year and they had more
crazy statistics there that mean absolutely
nothing - except it fills up a lot of books.
D: How do you keep busy lately?
F: I just came back from London. We played
an exhibition game over there with some major
league baseball players' alumni group. We played
over there and I pitched an inning in Manchester.
We played the British Olympic team. It was the
25th of September.
D: What's your opinion of the new senior
league that is starting up in Florida?
F: A lot of the guys on this trip will be
there. I think it will be a lot of fun and be great
for autograph hounds. I think there will be some
successful teams and some not so successful
teams. I'm glad to see it work. I hope some of
my friends make some money on it. It'll give
them the opportunity to play ball for a few more
years and make some money. A lot of them can
use it. But what do you do when it's over - go
home. It's not really a big deal unless they get
some TV money. I think it will go for a year or
two maybe, but I don't expect it to be a
D: You see it as a novelty venture?
F: I think so. I may be 100 percent wrong,
I've been wrong many times before. I would say
it might work for a while, I hope it does for the
benefit of the fellas who are participating in it
and for their vestures.
D: With the saturation of major league
talent, will there ever be a day with a pitching
staff comparable to the one's you pitched on in
F: There aren't many good arms around any
more, that's the problem. There aren't that many
good arms and there's a lot of overmanaging in
cases. A lot of managers are overmanaging. It's
because they have a lot of mediocre players,
'You have to get rid of the
freeloaders. A lot of times, the
ones you consider your best
friends are your worst enemies.
They want to be seen with you
and they want to take you
around to exploit you.,
You don't have any outstanding set lineups
like you used to have. When you've got so many
journeymen, you throw all the names up in the
air and the nine that hit the deck first, that's your
nine for the day. You used to have the great
ballclubs over in Detroit and New York, and
Cleveland and everywhere. They had pretty much
a set lineup. Not so much anymore because so
many players are about the same - not the
same, should I say. Journeyman.
D: Where have you seen the greatest
examples of overmanaging?.
F: I wouldn't specifically say in any particu-
lar town where it happened. I've seen it happen
from time to time and not any specific ballclub.
And if I did, I wouldn't tell you anyway. Making
too many moves, too early in the game. It's
because they are frustrated, the managers.
D: Do you go along with all the righty, lefty
pitching changes - and pinch-hitting for that
reason, or should the best man play?
F: As far as changing pitchers in the eighth
or ninth inning it's probably a pretty good
political thing for the managers because if
they've got an outstanding relief pitcher and they
leave the starting pitcher in there and they lose
the game - he's likely to get fired by the owner
or general manager because it's his responsibil-
ity. But if their hot-shot, high-paid relief pitcher
in there and he loses the game, he takes the baby
off his lap and puts it on his relief pitcher's
knuckle lap. Then it's the relief pitcher's loss,
not the manager's. Do you see what I mean?
D: Sure. Was that the way it was done in
F: Hell, no. Nope. I've pitched more
complete games in 1946 than anyone since 1914.
D: What was the highlight of your career?
F: Highlight? That's very difficult. Probably
my first start in Cleveland when I struck out -
when I was the youngest pitcher to ever start a
game, win a game, and complete a game. Struck
out 15. Won the ballgame 4-1. Six hits. That
was back in 1936. That is what got me going.
I had a lot of high points and a few low ones.
When I returned from the service I beat
Newhouser right here in Cleveland before a full
house - or not a full house, but 49,000. And I
went ahead and next, first start in Yankee
Stadium I pitched a no-hitter against the
Yankees. First one pitched at Yankee Stadium.
Now, I've talked to you long enough, I have
NFL rulers ruin
When most people retire, they get a gold watch, a fa'ewell party, a pat
on the back. Who knows? Maybe a McDonald's Gift Certificate, if the
company's in a giving mood.
But all National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle gets for
his retirement is the shaft. Rozelle, who brought the league from small
time success to a multi-billion dollar industry, announced his retirement
The owners still haven't chosen a successor. And Rozelle must sit and
Just 10 days after A. Bartlett Giammati passed away, Major League
Baseball owners chose Fay Vincent as his successor. Football's owners,
however, keep futzing around, leaving Rozelle hanging in the breeze.
While Rozelle waits to break out his fishing tackle and rod, the owners
bicker over the procedure of finding a replacement. The least the owners
could do is give him a quick and painless retirement.
But, oh no. To think that football's owners could do something decent
happens to be out of the question.
NFL football owners, a group of millionaires that, like Peter Pan,
never want to grow up, use their teams to establish their own self-
importance. Without the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who the hell would have
ever heard of Hugh Culverhouse?
The same goes for the Giants' Wellington Mara. What type of name is
So the egotistical owners walk around with an arrogant strut and use
the chance of naming Rozelle's successor as a vile grasp for attention. And
they seem to enjoy it.
IN JUNE, New Orleans general manager Jim Finks seemed the simple
choice as Rozelle's replacement. But the owners shocked the football world
by rejecting his nomination because of the way the selection was done.
If they had rejected Finks because of his qualifications, that's fine. But
the self-inflated owners nixed Finks, balking on procedure. Angered that
the "old-guard" owners who headed the search committee offered only
Finks as an alternative, 11 "insurgent" new owners blocked Finks'
How rude. While the owners bicker over who brought up Finks' name,
Rozelle pines for retirement. Who do these owners think they are?
It's just football, not SALT II treaty negotiations. Let's name
somebody and get on with the season. Let Rozelle get on with his life.
Instead, these rich fat cats sit on their mighty thrones negotiating on terms
of what's best for them, not for the league or Rozelle.
Backstabbing and bickering marred the June meeting in Chicago. The
"insurgent" group included a former "old-guard" minuteman, Detroit Lions
owner/cheapskate William Clay Ford. Why the NFL would listen to a guy
who can't manage his own team, we'll never know.
"I just thought this was crazy.
Here you had a committee that
supposedly interviewed - I can'te r ah u r
remember what the number was -
it was a staggering amount of
candidates," said Ford, who
obviously had his facts straight.
"And then they make a selection.
Fine. Why not tell us beforehand so
we can digest it and have some
"But no, they're going to spring
it on us inta meeting. I just didn't '
like it. I thought it was a lousy °
process. I thought the dissidents, or
whatever you call them, had a
And so all the dissidents, or
whatever you call them, took their
toys and ran home, never to play Fo rd
with the old-guard again..Shape up!
Ford shows just how grossly arrogant and egotistical he really is when
he actually stated that he supports Finks now and planned to vote yes on
him back at that fateful, childish reeting in June.
"Jim Finks happened to be pry candidate. I didn't like how (the search
committee) got there," Ford said. "I'm not going to sit there blindly and
What an idiot.
Ford should worry about the cricket noises echoing the Silverdome
during Lions' home games rather than this ego. He should be more
considerate towards Rozelle and swallow his pride.
But every owner has compassion, even Ford, who realizes the
importance of finding a new commissioner quickly.
"You've got a lame duck sitting there who's been trying to get out
since March," Ford said, making Rozelle sound like a rat trapped in a
maze. How perceptive. Maybe Ford also woke up one day and smelled the
coffee that his team has stunk for the past three decades.
THE OWNERS have a chance to redeem themselves, if that's at all
possible, with a meeting set for next week.
"They say it's to select (a candidate) but I can't believe the actual vote
will be taken," Ford said, obviously preparing himself for another ego trip.
"I do think the selection meeting will follow up pretty closely. I think it
will be 10 -days to two weeks."
Well, Pete, you're just going to have to wait. There's still a lot more
limelight for the owners to steal. It's obvious Ford and the other owners
haven't learned from June's mistakes.
These "insurgent" owners, dissidents, whatever you call them, have
some nerve. They just don't seem to care that Rozelle represents football's
past. He built the league from which they are profiting and they don't
seem to appreciate that.
Taking this into account, it's not surprising that redneck/Dallas
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones happens to be a dissident. After buying
"America's Team", he coldly booted coach Tom Landry and general
manager Tex Schramm out of office.
Thanks for the memories and tradition. Don't forget to write.
Like some Duke of Hazzard that had a little too much moonshine,
Jones boorishly suggested that the Dallas Cheerleaders wear skimpier
outfits and consort more with the players. After the cheerleaders balked,
Jones recanted his request.
"I understand a little bit where (Boss Hogg Jones and hair spray
drenched coach Jimmy Johnson) comes from," Landry said. "The new
ownership, the new coach, they came into an-exciting situation for them.
They just didn't think about people, they just thought about the
Steelers demolish hapless, winless Lions
PONTIAC, MI (AP) - Rodney
was rusty, Bubby was better and the
result was predictable.
Bubby Brister and the Pittsburgh
1 defense spoiled Rodney Peete's NFL
Rodney Carter scored on a 1-yard
run and Ray Wallace on a 2-yard run
The Steelers' defense, which a
exhibition or a regular-season game
with their new run-and-shoot
offense, are 0-4.
"We played just lousy," Detroit
coach Wayne Fontes said. "We didn't
possession 38 minutes, 50 seconds.
Peete, a sixth-round draft pick out
of Southern Cal, where he was
runner-up in the Heisman Trophy
balloting to Barry Sanders,