Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The White Rat

By Charlie Danrick

What manager uttered these rather harsh statements?

“A sense of humor (needs for successful manager) and a good bullpen.”

“Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it.”

“Down there (New Athens, Illinois), we’ve got more taverns than grocery stores. I walked in, threw down a bill and said, ‘Give everybody a drink.’ Nice gesture I thought, but down the bar somebody yelled, ‘Hey big shot, your brother is still a better ballplayer than you are.”His Rules

1. Be on time.

2. Bust your butt.

3. Play smart.

4. Have some laughs while you’re at it.

“If you don’t have outstanding relief pitching, you might as well piss on the fire and call the dogs.”

“I’m not buddy-buddy with the players. If they need a buddy, let them buy a dog.”

“Some people asked me if I would be interested in managing the A’s. I said a definite no thank you. At night, that place is a graveyard with lights.”

“The only thing bad about winning the pennant is that you have to manage the All-Star Game the next year. I’d rather go fishing for three years.”

“The only way to make money as a manager is to win in one place, get fired and hired somewhere else.”

“The rules are changed now, there’s not any way to build a team today. It’s just how much money you want to spend. You could be the world champions and somebody else makes a key acquisition or two and you’re through.”

“The way we have been playing, I might tell my players not to cross the picket line (umpire strike of 1979).”

“We need just two players to be a contender. Just Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax.”

“We need three kinds of pitching: left handed, right handed, and relief.”

“What counts aren’t the number of double plays, but the ones you should have had and missed.”

“You sweat out the free agent thing in November then you make the trades in December. Then you struggle to sign the guys left in January and in February I get down to sewing all the new numbers on the uniforms.”

None other than Whitey Herzog, often referred to as the “White Rat” having nothing to do with the color of his skin but rather to his buzzed cut hair.

It was July 1988 and I, an official licensee of Major League Baseball Properties, went with my son to the All Star Game in Cincinnati. One of the main reasons I attended was because at that time, licensee meetings were held during the All Star break. At the hotel housing the actual players, I didn’t see Whitey. You ask if he was incognito munching on cheese?

He was managing the National League squad because the year before he led the Cardinals to the World Series title. Whitey as a player with several A.L. teams never seemed to have a so-called Billy Martin reputation but during his managerial years with Texas in ’73, the Angels in ’74, the Royals from ’75-79 and the Cards from ’80-’90, he got rough, brash and quite “Earl Weaverish.”

The American League won that A.S.G. 1-0 on a homer by Terry Steinbach. The following morning my son and I went over to the(if I recall correctly) Ramada for breakfast while waiting for transportation to the Erlanger Kentucky airport. After finishing, we were sitting in the lobby watching the players, broadcasters etc. mill around. I looked out the large window and happened to spy a white haired crew cut guy standing outside waiting for the team bus. A lot of fans were also milling around outside and inside the hotel and all agreed it was Whitey but no one was willing to say hello, congratulate him on some nice managing and wish him luck in the rest of the ’88 season. Everyone knew about his reputation and simply were too scared to get involved with the LOSING A.S.G. Mgr.

I like challenges and therefore volunteered. I went over to Whitey, stuck out my hand for a shake and began talking about the game the night before. Fans were looking , waiting for me to get decked by the man with the tough reputation. It didn’t happen. We began talking and slowly the crowd began walking toward us. “Was it possible that the White Rat really wasn’t?”

Then right between us stepped this freckle faced kid about 12 years old. He held out a ball and said,”M..M…Mr. Herzog. Wou..wou…would you please sign my ball?” Whitey took the ball, slowly turned it around and said to the kid,”It’s all filled up with names. Where am I supposed to sign the thing?” The poor kid was shaking in his shoes, pointed to a space underneath the name of one of the All Stars and said,”’bout here, Mr. Herzog?” Whitey took a look at the name and countered with, “No way, I can’t stand the guy.” I began busting up. So the tyke took the ball back with a tear in his eye and began walking away.

I winked at Whitey, he winked back and yelled,”Hey kid, come back.” The boy did a quick turn and scurried back. Whitey asked,”How come you’re wearing a Reds cap and want an autograph from a Cardinal?” “Oh..oh..I like the Cards too” he replied. I like all teams.” Then Whitey said,”Well maybe but you’ll have to turn the brim to the back of your head. I’m not looking at any “C.”

Whitey took the ball and the kid’s pen and in a gruff voice said,”I usually don’t sign a ball from a Reds fan” but here it is. The kid was excited and ran back to the crowd moving ever so slowly toward us.

Just then the Cards team bus pulled up and out came Todd Worrell and others. Whitey shook my hand again and said,”Gotta go. Did I make the kid happy?” I replied,”Sir, you made EVERYBODY happy.”


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