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Offday Medicine: Don't Be Depressed! Baseball Still Is Fun!! 3 Crazy Owners...

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Okay, so it appears that our favorite franchise tossed away all the momentum they had going into the All-Star break, unlike our fierce rivals from Arlington, that deep summer armpit of Satan that MLB schedulers work overtime to avoid come August/September.

But keep the faith, folks, it's still a long way to go before we know how this thing turns out. And all along the way we get a bucketload full of one of the things we all share: a love for baseball. Trust me, as dark as this past weekend looks, we will be desparately dreaming of the chance to experience it again come December.

So let's dwell on baseball for a moment. One of the wild and crazy things about the game has nothign to do with the events that transpire on the field of play: baseball ownership. There is a rich vein of characters to be mined throughout the history of the game. Among those characters are some truly crazy guys. And even one very crazy gal. (Or, should I say, "broad"?)

Of what stories do you know, or have heard? Which owners do you find to have been the most crazy, or to have done the wildest things?


My candidates...

Candidate #1: Vince Naimoli of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Credentials For Crazy (Cheapskate Extra-ordinaire):

  • Club employees were not allowed to park in the stadium parking lot. Even during the offseason.
  • Hired EXTRA(!) ushers to harrass fans for trying to sneak into better seats in empty stadiums, and firing those who failed
  • Once tried to fire a Baltimore writer for eating a pizza in the press box
  • Refused to buy internet access for the front office staff. If an employee wanted to sell groupd tix or sponsorships, they had to buy their own internet access!
  • Refused to buy an email system for the franchise. (Famously considered email to be "a fad".)
  • Invited a high school band to perform the national anthem, then tried to charge them admission.
  • He once sent a letter to the city of Tampa asking why he didn't have a free, reserved parking space at the airport. After all, he owned a baseball team!
  • Banned outside food, and was his own private detective. he would sit in the stands and look for people eating outside food. If he found any, he would walk up to that person and ask where they entered. He would then call his administrators, and have the inspectors for that gate fired on the spot.

Candidate #2: Bill Veeck of the Phillies, Indians, St. Louis Browns, White Sox
Credentials For Crazy (Most anti-owner owner, ever):

On the plus Side:

  • Hired the AL's first black baseball player, Larry Dolby.
  • He also was the only owner to testify in support of Curt Flood.
  • Hired 42 year old Satchel Paige, who became the oldest rookie ever in baseball.
  • Introduced fireworks at baseball games.

On the Crazy Side:

  • Hired 3’7" midget Eddie Gaedel to the plate as a Designated Walk
  • Staged "Grandstand Managers’ Day," where the fans voted on game strategy using large signs that said "YES" or "NO". They got to decide on lots of things in the game. The fans halted a 4 game losing streak, and claimed a 5-3 victory.
  • Introduced the exploding scoreboard.
  • Once made his team play in bermuda shorts & pajama top uniforms.
  • Once held a public player trading session in a hotel lobby, executing 4 trades.
  • Hired ex-player and professional clown, Max Patkin, to be one of his base coaches.
  • Tried to get AL clubs to share radio/tv revenue with visiting teams. After losing the owner vote, he refused to let other teams broadcast St. Louis Browns games (this set off a chain of events that would eventually cascade into the formation of the Baltimore Orioles).

Candidate #3: Charlie Finley of the A's, Kansas City and Oakland (and lost out on AL exanposion franchise in LA. To Gene Autry.)
Credentials For Crazy (Mostly just one crazy bastard):

  • Changed the Athletics mascot from a white elephant to a mule and named it after himself. The mule went everywhere, most famously into the press box so that it could urinate and defecate among the journalists during games.
  • Had a line painted out in right field to emulate Yankee Stadium just so he could publicize via the PA announcer that such A's hits would have been homers if they had been allowed to rebuild the Oakland Coliseum.
  • Created the infamous Green and Gold uniforms.
  • Invented and experimented with orange baseballs.
  • Invented both the Designated Hitter & Designated Runner. The Deisgnated Hitter was accepted.
  • Promoted and changed teh World Series into night games.
  • Created a mechanical rabbit to deliver baseballs to umpires during games.
  • Leaving no detail to chance, bribed his players $300 each to grow moustaches (making Rollie Fingers famous.)
  • Invented Ballgirls, hiring the future Mrs. Fields of the chocolate chip cookie fame.
  • Hired a teenager as Executive Vice President, just to hang around. That teenager later became MC Hammer.
  • Tried to dismantle his own team out of frustration over free agency. This led to the famous Bowie Kuhn "best interest of baseball" court decision.