Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game

By George Castle | Go to book overview

SEVEN
A Lot Less Chewin' the Fat with Managers

The manager's office was the last cracker-barrel outpost in baseball. Now the cracker barrels are going the way of the onedollar bleacher ticket. Instead, it's the interview room or a Tokyosubway-style packed dugout session.

Before managers' communications with the outside world became ritually stage-managed, they talked to their public in little alcoves tucked underneath the stands at ballparks, where the homilies of the game would be dispensed. Half-dressed, mouths full of chaw, baseball's skippers, or pilots, or whatever the convenient nickname for manager was, held court one-on-one, or in intimate groups, to give at least the semi-inside tales of their teams and opponents. Storytelling was part of the package for the most adept conversationalists.

Part of a manager's daily routine was to deal with the media and, in turn, the fans. He usually was the front man for his franchise. Even a people-politics-challenged chap like former Cubs general manager Larry Himes said media relations was one of his three top requirements for a manager.

Before the days of the onslaught of broadcasting crews with their equipment, managers gabbed with writers as informally as possible. If not in their offices, they'd lean back in the dugout to hold court. Or they'd lean against the cage during batting practice for shorter bursts of jabber. It was a time-honored tradition for this conduit of information and opinion. The daily relationship of baseball employee to media messenger to fan depended upon it.

Some were masters at this game. Sparky Anderson could talk all day if someone would let him in his incarnations as Reds and Tigers

-91-

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