how do i redeem my amazon credit card points orchard bank credit card payment phone number barclays credit card application what is a good balance transfer credit card apply for a credit card santander mastercard credit card number hack bank of america credit card cashback bonus credit cards online instant decision what does pdq credit card machine stand for 21 month no interest credit card citibank no annual fee credit card india what credit card should i get apple credit card swipe device best travel reward credit card 2011 how do i check my amazon credit card points first time credit cards no credit history guaranteed cash loans now check my credit card score free how to get hdfc credit card statement online halifax credit card application bank credit card comparison malaysia pay advance america credit card apply sbi visa card online registration delta credit card promotion 2011 how to get a bad credit mortgage rbc royal bank credit card low rate balance transfer compare business credit cards canada can i get a credit card for my business if i have bad credit apply for a visa credit card with no credit history top credit cards for bad credit 2013 credit card instant decision canada credit card approval with no credit history low interest balance transfer credit cards australia best air miles credit card wells fargo credit card approval odds bad credit car leasing companies pay off credit card debt calculator is there a grace period for chase credit card payments chase credit card rewards quarter credit card for bad credit instant approval uk hsbc credit card apply for credit card get a credit card with bad credit with no annual fee barclays premier credit card login bad credit installment loans direct lender uk best credit card deal how to buy apps from google play store without credit card list of secured credit card issuers quick bad credit loans south africa payday loans cash advance no credit check how to reduce my credit card debt fast capital one credit cards banking auto loans checking wells fargo business credit card review top 10 credit card issuers uk american express gold card money saving expert westpac credit card rates australia new payday loan direct lender uk best credit card cashback deals prepaid credit cards freedom bad credit loans online canada best air miles credit card 2013 canada what happens to credit card debt when you die canada ipad credit card app australia visa credit cards applications list of all citibank credit cards online payday loans direct lender pay belk credit card payment online reward points hdfc credit card offers credit card low interest rates icici credit card settlement payday lenders online no credit check how do i redeem icici credit card reward points credit card report example visa credit card instant approval chase freedom credit card cash back categories sears canada credit card services check my visa gift card balance online cibc credit card lost or stolen compare student credit cards uk prepaid visa cards wiki nilson report credit card fraud applying for a credit card natwest chase virtual credit card getting a capital one credit card after bankruptcy best hotel rewards credit card 2013 chase freedom credit card for bad credit how to download free apps from app store without credit card anz platinum card travel insurance policy number best travel credit card usa credit card debt settlement canada visa debit cards work in europe wireless credit card machine hire capital one credit card for college students how much does a credit card machine cost key ring reward cards uk hsbc credit card no annual fee india top 5 credit cards in india pay dillards credit card payment online i need a bad credit loan not a payday loan i need to get a credit card to rebuild my credit new credit card fees law getting store credit cards after bankruptcy guaranteed credit card uk how do credit cards work bank of ireland visa debit card locked best credit cards in canada for travel sears hsbc mastercard credit card credit card debt on death visa credit card numbers that work 2011 credit card logos vector files calculate monthly credit card interest calculator credit card rate reduction letter i need a personal loan with bad credit forbes top credit cards 2013 paypal credit card processing canada anz cash back visa gold zero balance transfer credit cards no fee hdfc emi credit card calculator what does cashback on credit cards mean how to know sbi credit card status 3 month payday loans no brokers long term bad credit loans online how to get a bad credit loan fast best credit cards for bad credit canada capital one balance transfer card best secured credit card to build credit fast 2013 test credit card numbers with cvv2 0 apr credit card offers balance transfers difference between secured and unsecured credit cards credit card fraud bust in queens ny credit card verification code java lifehacker best credit card rewards payday advance no credit check no faxing belk credit card minimum payment best airline rewards credit card 2011 canada online credit card security can u get a credit card with bad credit how to apply for hsbc credit card online visa debit cards how do they work capital 1 credit card payment online when does discover credit card report to credit bureau am i liable for my company credit card no fax no credit check payday loans online secured business credit card canada how to get an american express platinum card starbucks platinum card sold out canada travel rewards credit card compare secured credit card to rebuild credit score best travel visa cards canada wells fargo visa platinum credit card rewards best secured credit cards to rebuild credit free online credit card payment processing best way to consolidate high interest credit cards best payday lenders bad credit business credit limit calculator buy instant virtual credit card how do cash advances on credit cards work real credit card numbers that work online 2013 credit card settlement letter example apply for uk credit cards online square credit card reader android uk capital one credit cards login what is credit card apr mean credit cards with fixed low interest rates wells fargo international credit card fees cibc student credit card limit types of td visa cards what us credit card has chip and pin instant virtual credit cards travel rewards credit cards comparison canada payday loans online direct lenders no credit checks go compare credit card balance transfers no fee american airlines credit card 90 day payday loans no credit check australia bank of america credit card travel miles bank of america prepaid credit card to build credit what credit card is best for me goodyear tire credit card sign in mastercard careers mba is there a halo reach credit limit paying off credit card debt vs saving reputable credit card debt settlement companies how to get hdfc new credit card standard chartered credit card application status with reference number best rewards cards app wells fargo secured credit card cash advance hsbc sears credit card customer service hdfc credit card charges for foreign currency transactions marriott premier credit card uk bank of america credit card activation phone number what are good interest rates for credit cards how to create apps store without credit card barclays credit card application online how credit card processing works wiki free gnc gold card best credit cards to have with fair credit chase pre approved credit cards joint credit card account chase secured credit card guaranteed approval canada college student mastercard credit cards average credit score us airways credit card points guy best payday loan online lenders update apple id credit card on ipad neiman marcus credit card payment phone sears master credit card login prepaid visa credit card canada best capital one business credit card canada best credit card points apply for credit limit increase capital one credit card terminal till rolls zero percent balance transfer credit cards 2012 department store credit cards usa types of orchard bank credit cards goodyear credit card promotion what credit card can i apply for without a job swiss air miles and more credit card cancel hsbc credit card insurance premium online apply for credit card hsbc bank credit card holder with money clip current limitation of online credit card payment system new small business credit cards with bad credit how long is a mastercard credit card number hbc credit card points apply for credit cards with no credit check sears orchard credit card login prepaid canadian credit cards payday loan lenders no credit check no brokers student visa credit card login fha mortgage loans with bad credit 2 cash back credit cards fidelity credit card interest free balance transfers credit card promotions november 2013 anz platinum credit card insurance axis bank credit card cash back offer cpp credit card protection review credit card machine for taxi visa card generator with security code best merchant cash advance companies low rate for life of balance credit cards how to get guaranteed credit card approval best cashback credit card calculator online prepaid credit card barclays platinum card benefits guaranteed instant approval credit cards travel rewards cards comparison canada credit one bank credit card agreement credit card application for bad credit with no application fee capital one secured credit card consumer reviews best credit card for living abroad virgin business credit card uk prepaid credit card canada reloadable bank of america business credit card login american airlines credit card points guy best credit card interest rates balance transfer white hills cash payday loans number visa credit cards numbers that work fake valid credit card numbers with security code stolen credit card numbers hacked visa credit card numbers 2013 does it hurt your credit to apply for several credit cards get online loan without bank account best place to get a student credit card low interest rate credit cards no annual fee pay monthly payday loans td canada trust cash back credit card pay bank of america credit card cash back visa cards canada low interest credit card balance transfer nz bad credit american express corporate cards mastercard black card uk change mastercard securecode citibank transfer credit card balance sears credit card application phone accept credit cards on iphone travel rewards credit cards australia credit cards with bad credit or no credit kotak credit card online payment applying for a credit card in canada with bad credit best rewards credit cards 2014 visa credit card number hack discover student credit card bad credit best credit cards for college students 2013 how to redeem hdfc world credit card reward points amazon credit card visa login chase reward cards bank of america corporate credit card standard chartered new credit card apply account services credit card rate reduction how to pay barclays credit card payment black cardigan uk credit card charges abroad nationwide top credit card processing companies in the us visa credit card number generator with cvv credit card apr calculator download credit cards for low income good credit apply for credit cards for bad credit business credit card offers balance transfer list of credit cards company in uk best rewards credit card no annual fee 2013 negotiating with credit card companies to reduce debt uk new fees for credit cards 2013 what is a cvv cvc in a credit card vanilla prepaid visa card canada balance starwood preferred guest credit card 30000 online credit card generator fast payday loans no credit check prepaid visa card euros tesco credit card login ireland ge money walmart credit card contact number top 10 credit cards to have buy virtual credit cards with paypal visa gift card online registration best rewards credit cards no annual fee iphone credit card processing paypal bridgestone firestone credit card guaranteed payday loans get a credit card with no credit history lord and taylor credit card services number bank of canada credit card debt ba master credit card trust icici instant credit card charges bank of america small business secured credit card how can a small business accept credit cards online apply for a visa credit card scotiabank top 20 payday lenders no brokers value city credit card payment is it bad to consolidate credit cards instant credit cards transfer balance credit cards australia martin lewis best credit card balance transfer do i need a credit card for paypal to receive money travel rewards cards for students us fast cash loans credit card payment calculator uk uob credit card rewards catalogue malaysia icici virtual credit card emi ebay credit card payment processing business credit card air miles compare credit cards online australia what is my american express credit limit virgin credit cards ppi claims what is the best credit card to have with bad credit who has the best credit card rate myer visa card review best interest free credit cards uk best reward points credit card 2013 best visa credit cards 2011 canada easiest unsecured credit card for bad credit best travel visa credit card canada cash rewards credit cards comparison how do you cancel a maurices credit card american express rewards cards compare free virtual credit card usa major bank secured credit cards top credit card deals 2012 where else can i use my lane bryant credit card best tips for paying off credit card debt aqua credit card payment protection best place to get credit card with no credit register canada post visa gift card credit card minimum payment calculator uk easy credit card application no requirements philippines hdfc credit card offers emi how to lower your credit card interest rate sbi credit card statement sample list of online stores that accept international credit cards free virtual credit card for paypal verification best first credit cards for young adults apply for lifetime free credit card best canadian credit cards 2013 hsbc credit card application online india credit card offers for bad credit instant approval ann taylor mastercard credit card login icici credit card international transaction fee citibank credit card approval code what is credit card issue number mastercard rbs credit card offers for existing customers credit cards with rewards bad credit credit card protection insurance australia best starwood credit card axis bank instant credit card review best gas credit card ontario icici credit card apply online in chennai apply for credit card online canada credit card offers $500 cash back southwest credit card free flight after first purchase free credit card numbers with cvv and expiration date credit card application has been referred walmart credit card cash advance limitations hsbc credit card application online singapore bpi credit card cash advance charges online credit card application philippines ofw applying for credit card with bad credit score apply for chase british airways credit card super balance transfer to current account should i accept credit card payments on ebay chase business credit card customer service starbucks credit card discount what credit score do i need for a best buy card secured visa credit card no annual fee apply for a new credit card with first premier bank costco credit card application union bank of india credit card application form visa credit card movie offers india discover credit card stolen phone number pay bank of america credit card with paypal should i consolidate my credit cards how many credits cards is too many pentagon credit card credit union texaco chevron gas credit card low or no interest credit cards icici credit card credit card no credit check canada hdfc credit card reward points redeem instant online loans uk falcon credit card fraud detection system citibank business credit card application sbi irctc credit card registration credit cards 0 interest for 12 months no balance transfer fee can i get cash from a walmart visa gift card citi credit card balance transfer to bank account credit cards for poor credit instant approval bank of america student credit card credit score best credit cards for online purchases list of online payday loan lenders no credit credit card application fnb online loan calculator online application for visa electron card how to consolidate credit card debt yourself chase credit cards no credit history payday loan bad credit lender only instant cash advance loans online best citibank credit card offer best buy credit card payment o2 prepaid credit card uk usaa credit card cash advance limit citi aadvantage credit card review bdo online application for credit cards apply student credit card online instant approval buy prepaid credit card paypal apply for chase credit card for students how can i sign up for a credit card with bad credit best credit card to get with bad credit hdfc credit cards reward points titanium capital one credit card 0 balance transfer barclays credit card ppi insurance prepaid gift credit cards with no fees best visa credit cards with rewards should i consolidate my credit card debt hdfc credit card online apply best credit card offer travel rewards credit cards canada 2012 malaysia credit card cash rebate comparison can applying for credit cards hurt my credit score credit card terminal for iphone australia manchester united credit card maybank anz credit card balance transfer 0 ge money bank credit card contact number watch credit card fraud for dummies best credit card points guy goodyear credit card login account mobile credit card processing iphone paypal pay hdfc credit card bill online neft mastercard careers sydney what credit card should i get for my first one tesco credit card payment methods paypal credit card finance charges credit card loans in singapore cash loans now moline free credit report canada no credit card post office credit card travel money horizon credit card number neiman marcus credit card login small business credit card processing mobile best corporate credit cards canada amscot cash advance no checkbook what is the lowest credit card rate available application form for visa credit card apply for bad credit loan by phone reporting unauthorized credit card charges lowest interest credit card australia new payday lenders online jcpenney credit card login page halifax credit card online bank apply for marriott credit card uk small business cash advance loans corporate credit cards for small business credit card fraud penalties texas pay bank of america credit card online google credit card search credit card payments on iphone apps sbi online credit card payment login independent payday loan lenders icici bank credit card application form pdf old orchard credit card online should i pay off my high interest credit cards first free valid visa credit card numbers 2012 payday loan direct lenders only no teletrack barclays credit card apply online in india

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 613 guests online

Atom RSS

Interview - Buzzie Bavasi - Front Office Icon PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
The Biz of Baseball - Interviews
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 17 July 2005 12:00

Buzzie Bavasi

Buzzie Bavasi died on May 1, 2008 at the age of 93. My thoughts and prayers go to his wife Evit, sons Peter, Bob, Chris, and Bill and all in the Bavasi family - Maury Brown 

Buzzie Bavasi was part of organizations that won two divisional titles, nine league championships and four World Series over his more than a half-century in organized baseball. A long-time general manager for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1951-67), president of the San Diego Padres (1968-77), and executive vice president of the California Angels (1978-99).

In this interview he talks Larry MacPhail, Walter O’ Malley, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Arnholt Smith, Roy Campenella, Branch Rickey, Reberto Clemente, Nolan Ryan, the Dodgers move, the near move of the Padres and much more.

As with people, each interview is different. Some are difficult, some are easy. In the case of the interview with Buzzie Bavasi, it was difficult, not because of the way Bavasi responded to the questions (he was a joy to interview, for the record), but rather, the difficulty in this interview was the unbelievable breadth and width of his career: 60 years.

The problem is, how do you cover the life of someone that has seen some of the most critical turning points in baseball history?

Branch Rickey and the Dodgers signing of Jackie Robinson? You could do an entire interview.

The Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles? There's another.

The near move of the Padres to Washington, DC? Another... His time with the California Angels? Another...

It made for a difficult, yet nice problem to have... content overload.

Emil Joseph Bavasi was born Dec. 12, 1914 in New York City. His mother gave him the nickname "Buzzie" from the way he "buzzed" around the house. He went to DePauw University, which was fortuitous for Buzzie, as you will see in the interview.

Bavasi was part of organizations that won two divisional titles, nine league championships and four World Series over his more than a half-century in organized baseball. He started his career in 1939 in the minors, before spending time in the military. He was the long-time general manager for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1951-67), president of the San Diego Padres (1968-77), and executive vice president of the California Angels (1978-99). Under his tenure the Dodgers won eight NL pennants and four world championships in 17 years He was a two-time executive of the year, once with the Dodgers and once in the minor leagues with the Montreal Royals.

In this interview, Bavasi talks of his start in baseball and Larry MacPhail; the relationship of Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley; he talks of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe, as well as Nolan Ryan, Fresco Thompson, Al Campanis, and of course Walter Alston. He also talks of how he felt Robert Moses miscalculated on the Dodgers' willingness to move to Los Angeles, the near move of the Padres to Washington, DC, and much, much more.Maury Brown

BizBall: Your baptism into the front office is really quite an interesting story. Can you retell us how you bumped into Ford Frick, and what your first days of reporting to Larry MacPhail were like?

Bavasi: Well I, and Fred Frick, Ford Frick’s son, were high school and college roommates and we both went to DePauw University, which is Ford’s alma mater. And when my dad died in 1933, Ford sort of became my other father and when I graduated from college my mother gave me a new car and a year to do anything I wanted to do. Well, the best thing I wanted to do was go to Florida and watch the ballgames.

And I was sitting in Clearwater Stadium and watching the Dodgers play when Ford came by and said “What are you doing here?” and I told him, and he said, “No longer. Be in my office tomorrow morning.” So, I went back to New York and went to his office and he took me to Brooklyn to meet Larry MacPhail. And Larry MacPhail said “So you want to get into baseball?” and I said “I certainly do” and he said, “What do you know about the game?” I said “Nothing. I played in college but that’s about it.” He said, “Good. Surprised you don’t know anything about the game but it will do you some good ‘cause we have too many people around here who know everything.”

And he gave me a job as a glorified office boy. And that was it.

BizBall: Can you describe how it was to work with MacPhail, and tell us anything that occurred behind closed doors that would be a good example of how he operated?

Bavasi: One thing about Larry is that money meant nothing to him, unlike Walter O’Malley, money meant nothing to Larry. As a matter of fact, I was there for 13 weeks before I got a check.

But I’ll never forget one story.

He invited me to a Saturday meeting with Andy High, Branch Rickey, Jr. and Larry MacPhail and we were discussing players we were about to sign; there’s no draft at that time. And  they came across a fellow by the name of Brenner, I think his name was, from Purdue University. A pitcher -- a right hand pitcher. Andy said he wanted to offer him $3,000, he’s worth that much. Larry said “That’s a lot of money.” So, it’s near 5:00 and we stopped and he said we’ll continue tomorrow. Well, I was happy just to be in the room. Besides that, I happened to have a book I had and it had a box score and in the box score was a game at Purdue. Well, I was lucky enough to get three hits that day and one of them a home run against this Brenner. So the next morning we went into the meeting again and we were just about ready to give this fellow $3,000 and Larry said, “Anybody else know anything about him?” At that point I pulled out the box score and had no idea [what would happen] and he looked at it and said, “Oh, I’ll be a son of a bitch if I’m gonna give a guy $3,000 if Buzzie get three hits off him.” Never gave the kid a quarter. I felt guilty. Larry was all baseball and public relations.

You know, Bill Veeck is in the Hall of Fame, and rightfully so, and I was one of the voters for him. But most of his ideas were developed in Larry’s mind. Larry was the original Bill Veeck, really.

BizBall: In your book, Off the Record, you mention that Walter O’Malley didn’t get enough credit for the hiring of Jackie Robinson, and you added that Happy Chandler took too much…

Bavasi: Well, yes, it’s true. By that what I meant was, Walter was on the board of the Dodgers.--John Smith, Walter O’Malley, and Branch Rickey. The board had to vote for him. No one mentioned that the board of directors had to vote Jackie into the Big Leagues.

Happy Chandler had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Happy Chandler liked to say that the vote was 15-1 against bringing Jackie to the major leagues. Hogwash. At the meeting Horace [Stoneham] said he would vote for the move because his club was within a mile of Harlem. Mr. Wrigley said he would vote yes because 35% of his business throughout the world came from the black people. Bill Veeck said to the Dodgers. Hurry up and bring him up because I have an African-American that might be better than Jackie. Meaning Larry Doby. John Galbreath said it was a club matter not a league matter. No vote was ever taken.

BizBall: Branch Rickey has been viewed as one of, if not the most, influential executive in sports history because of the deal to sign Robinson and break the color barrier. Yet Rickey is also known for being visionary when it came to talent, and a miser when it came to spending money.

Do you think Mr. Rickey hired Robinson as a social statement, as a great player, as a way to tap into the African-American market, or was it kind of some of all of this?

 Bavasi: Well, I happen to think that he was hired him because he was a great player. Secondly, Walter thought he would be a great draw at the gate if he was successful. It was a gamble, but he was a gamble to pull it off. Mr. Rickey was the greatest baseball mind in the history of the game. There will never be another one like him.


BizBall: Can you describe the Dodgers organizational philosophy regarding international scouting and how it was developed?

Bavasi: We -- the Dodgers -- and when I say we I mean the Dodgers, we trained… I had the Montreal club, and the Dodgers trained in the Dominican Republic. We were there for thirty days, so you know it’s real. This is about 1948. We saw how much these people enjoy the  game of baseball, how well they played it. And I think that got all of baseball thinking about trade rules for salary purposes. That’s where we started.  We never started in Havana, we never started in the Dominican Republic before, but after we got there and stayed for months with these people we realized they were lovers of the game.

BizBall: It’s been well documented that O’Malley and Rickey were quite different people. Some might say they were oil and water…

Bavasi: The best way to describe that is with Clemente.

I had a deal with Mr. Rickey. Mr. Rickey asked me to go to Pittsburgh with him. And said, I’m sorry I was going to stay with the Dodger group, whom I knew. And he wrote me a letter saying if anytime he could help me, all I had to do was pick up the phone. So, we couldn’t bring Clemente up [from Montreal] because we had to keep him on the club under the old rules if he got more than a $4,000 bonus. And I know that Rickey had first [pick in the] draft, so I flew to Pittsburgh. And he agreed with me that he would take John Rutherford that would have let us keep Clemente. So I’m home free and I call Fresco and we were happy about it. And this was a Friday. The draft is on a Monday. Sunday evening Branch Rickey, Jr. called and said “Buzzie, the deal is off” and I said, “Why?” And he said, “My father and Walter had an argument and he called my father every obscene name in the book therefore he’s going to take Clemente” and that was it.

BizBall: During the negotiations in Brooklyn before the move, why do you think Robert Moses insisted on the Dodgers moving to Queens, and why do you think New York City mayor, Wagner didn’t step in when O'Malley refused to go for Moses' plan?

Bavasi: Well, number 1, Moses really didn’t believe that the Dodgers would move. He thought we would stay right where we were and that we would appreciate going to Flushing Meadows. Wagner didn’t think the Dodgers were that important. As a matter of fact, I  remember Mayor Wagner proposed a tax -- an excise tax -- on baseball tickets.  Not theater – just baseball – tickets. I had a dummy ticket made up with an extra stub which called it the Wagner Tax. This took care of matters immediately. Never heard another word about the proposed tax. But I think Moses just didn’t realize how attractive the Los Angeles situation was until it was too late.

BizBall: Your recommendation to Mr. O’Malley on Walter Alston proved to be very good. It was a gamble to recommend him at the time, but he had an immediate impact.

One area that is difficult to understand, is why Alston didn’t use Sandy Koufax early in Koufax’s career. I understand in ’55 and ’56 when the team was in contention and had a solid pitching staff, but after that, he sat much of the time on the bench.

Can you touch on why you feel he wasn’t used regularly? Did anything have to do with the perception that he was wild?

Bavasi: ’55 , ’56 and ’57…

Sandy was a local boy. Talking about Alston now, Alston didn’t want to pitch him because he wasn’t ready. He was too wild. He just couldn’t come close to home plate. And [Alston]  didn’t want him to pitch in front of the home folks because he was a Brooklyn boy. He got to California and he still didn’t pitch him in ’58 and Sandy wanted to quit, as a matter of fact. We talked -- I talked him out of it, but Walter Alston was the only one who had a great deal of faith in Sandy Koufax. Al Campanis and Fresco Thompson thought we made a mistake. I didn’t have an opinion because I hadn’t seen Sandy pitch before he signed. If it hadn’t been for Walter Alston, our friend Sandy Koufax would not have made it in the major leagues.   He had a great deal of faith in him. Both he and pitching coach Joe Becker deserve all the credit in the world for their patience with Sandy. And their belief in him.

BizBall: Let me throw out some names, and if you could, give me some thoughts on each one of them:

Fresco ThompsonFresco Thompson was a fine baseball man. Good baseball man. Knew the game well. Knew how to play the game. Played the game the hard way.  He didn’t have great deal of ability but made himself a good player. And I think he realized that because he wasn’t an established player and became a big leaguer, he knew what it took to become a good player. And if you didn’t like Fresco you didn’t like anyone.

Al CampanisAl was a Rickey man. In other words, he believed that Mr. Rickey could do no wrong. He tried to emulate Mr. Rickey, but he didn’t have Mr. Rickey’s style. Al was a great … in my day he was the best in the business. The Dodgers started down hill when Al was named GM. Not that he couldn't do the job, but he was the best damned scouting director in the business and it was too much to ask him to handle both jobs. He loved scouting.

Roy CampanellaCampanella was with me through his entire career. I think I knew Campy better than anyone else. He was a manager's delight. I venture to say had he not been injured he would have been in line to manage the Dodgers. He would have been a good one. He knew his own limitations and would apply this practice to his players. On the other hand when Jackie asked me if I thought he would make a good manager, I said NO. Jackie, I said, you are a perfectionist and would want all your players to play the game the way you did. If I had nine Robinsons playing for me I wouldn't need a manager. Jack understood and agreed with me .

 Jackie Robinson - As I have said many times, Jackie was not the greatest player to play our game, but he was the greatest competitor I ever saw. He could beat you with his glove, his legs, his bat and his desire to win. I can't say enough about his value to the Dodgers over the years.

Marvin Miller - I am sorry to say Marvin Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame.  This might sound strange, but… for the players. But he never did anything to hurt the game. Marvin was very honest and square with the baseball people. Tell them what he wanted and where he was going to get it. But Marvin Miller never did one thing to hurt the game of baseball.

Walter AlstonWell, he was my buddy. He made a name many places: Nashua, Montreal, Brooklyn, Los Angeles.  He was with them wherever he went. I always saw to it that he made $5,000.00 a year more than I made.

BizBall: On the Padres… There seems to have been an overwhelming sense of the Dodger influence on the team. You were recommended by Bob Carpenter for president, and there was a long line of Dodger managers that worked for the Padres organization in the days you were involved.

Considering all that, was the Padres influenced by the “Dodger way”?

Bavasi: First of all, let me set something straight. Walter didn’t have anything to do with my getting the job down here. Baseball decided at that time that if and when they were going to expand again, that baseball people should have the first opportunity….  You know what I’m talking about.  As a matter of fact, we were in contention and the bidding took place for the franchise and the price was to be $6 million. And who do you think said it needed to be $10 million? Walter O’Malley.  And we had to make $10 million rather than $6 million.  But baseball itself decided that in the future baseball people should be offered the first opportunity, provided they have the proper financial backing.

BizBall: Let’s talk about C. Arnholt Smith and the selling of the Padres. What was your reaction to him trying to sell the Padres to Joe Dansansky, without the League’s permission, with the idea of moving the franchise to DC the year after DC had lost the Senators?

Bavasi: It was tough to make some of those people understand. He thought that if he owned it he could sell the team. Didn’t realize he had to get permission, and I told him when he called and he said he sold the club for $12.5 million and I said, “You can’t do that without permission from the league.” He couldn’t understand that. Found out that he had to have permission. He just didn’t understand the rules and regulations of baseball. But he was a good owner. He really was at the time. I think he favored the club, I think he favored the operation. But of course he didn’t know what he was doing.

BizBall: What did you make of Ray Kroc when he was mentioned as a possible owner candidate for the Padres?

Bavasi: He was a good one. I loved that about Ray. To know Ray is to love him.  He was a great guy. Great man. You wouldn’t know Ray had fifteen cents if you were around him all  the time. But Ray Kroc loved the game of baseball as Gene Autry did. Loved the game. Loved the players. As a matter of fact, sometimes he loved them too much. But I’ll never forget, Don Lubin called me and told me he had a buyer for the club and I said, “Who?” And he said, “Ray Kroc” and I said, “Who’s he?” and he said, “Well, he owns 6,000 shares of McDonald’s.” To myself, I said, “McDonald’s is selling for $2.” But that was McDonnell-Douglas. I made a mistake. It was selling for $50. But when he took over this club, it was the greatest thing in the history of the town because he saved the club from being shipped out.

BizBall: When Peter Seitz ruled in favor of the players’ union in 1974, and revoked the Reserve Clause, it set in motion a drastic change in how the business of the game was conducted between the players, and those that worked with the players, such as yourself. Did the somewhat paternal relationship that was involved between those, such as yourself, and the players disappear from that time on?

Bavasi: Absolutely, absolutely. As for Peter Seitz, I don't believe his decision changed the way the game was played, but it did bring to light the agents. I have nothing against agents, but when one agent represents 8 or 9 players on one club we are asking for trouble. Think some thought should be given to limiting the number of players an agent or his firm can represent from one club. Just think of the money agents take out of the game every year without putting any of it back. If the player wants to share his income with an agent, so be it.

BizBall: In 1978 you came onboard with the California Angels, a franchise you called, at the time, a “country club” under owner, Gene Autry. At the same time, there was your relationship with Nolan Ryan. Looking back on 1979, would you have negotiated the contract with Ryan in the same way given his performance in 1978 when he went just 10-13?

Bavasi: Let me tell you what happened there. I like Nolan. To me, Sandy Koufax was the greatest pitcher I ever saw. But I liked Nolan. Nolan and his agent had sent me a three-page  letter.  (His agent was uh…. He worked with the association for a while.  I forget his name, but he sent me a three-page letter.)  In it, he stipulated that we had to take out an insurance policy, and it was going to cost us $135,000.  This is it.  Gene [Autry] who loved, loved Nolan couldn’t go along with it. He said it would set a precedent, we’d have to take out – on every player – an insurance policy. We can’t do that. This was a life insurance policy; had nothing to do with baseball. But so we said the contract is valid, except for the insurance policy. With that, the agent said,  “Get lost.” Never gave us a chance to negotiate.

BizBall: On Ryan’s contact negotiation… Ryan had always negotiated his own contacts before the ’78 season, but opted to hire Dick Moss…

Bavasi: Dick Moss!  That’s [who the agent was!]

BizBall: …for his negotiations after ’79. Can you recall how those negotiations with Moss and how it went?

Bavasi: There was no negotiation whatsoever. He just sent me a letter – a three-page letter – saying yes or no.  We had to answer by March 12. I got the letter March 9.  I was surprised that Gene didn’t… He had two great favorites – he had Nolan Ryan and Jim Fregosi. I was surprised that he didn’t go for the $135,000.

BizBall: What types of challenges faced your son, Peter, and now your son, Bill, that you never had to deal with?

Bavasi: You know, money-wise, in my 1955 club – the only championship club in Brooklyn – their total payroll was $495,000. They (Peter and Bill) came along when the agents were really running the game. Players are now motivated by money rather than pride. The average salary today is just about what I received during my entire 30 years with the Dodgers.

BizBall: I want to throw out a quote from former commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s book, Hardball, and if you would, comment on it: "Buzzie was one of baseball's free spirits. He had a catlike ability to spring over, around and under the rules. He knew where all the bodies were buried, and more often than not, who had put them there.”

Bavasi: Well, I think he’s right.  He’s a good man.  I like Bowie.  I think he was great for the game.  Bowie took over in 1969. I was already in baseball for some 30 years. Knew what was going on and warned Bowie as much as I could. I like him. Still do. Think he did a fine job. Guess he made a mistake in fining Gussie Busch and Ted Turner for a rule infraction.

At the Stadium, Branch Rickey, Jr. and I would study the Blue Book every day. It used to be called the Blue Book. The only way to understand the rules is to find out how to beat the rules.  Plus to beat a rule you need a rule – and look, it wasn’t underhanded, I just thought that if there was a way to get things done, I did it. And it seemed to work. And Bowie’s right.

BizBall: What do you miss about how baseball was during your time, and what is good and bad about baseball today?

Bavasi: I enjoy it immensely. If the Cubs are at home I get to watch three games a day. The game hasn't changed the people have changed. Think we need more people like George Steinbrenner. Sure he spends a lot of money, but spends it wisely. Others spend a lot of money, but not very wisely.

But, I enjoy the games; I’ll watch two games in a day. But I don’t enjoy the fact that there’s more than one winner. Now you’ve got, what, four winners? I hate tournaments. There should be one champion; … there was no other winner… there  was no second place prize. To win a championship in the old days, it was tough. It was tough to win a championship.

BizBall: Finally, do you have any regrets, and what are your greatest accomplishments, do you think?

Bavasi: Of course, in baseball the accomplishment is getting to the World Series. And, my Clubs in 60 years finished first or tied for first ten times, which isn’t bad. But I’d say my biggest disappointment was 1962. If you remember that, we lost the playoffs to the Giants. I think Sandy Koufax opened up and they scored five runs off of him in the first inning if I remember correctly. But not winning in ‘62 is my disappointment because Walter -- I'm talking about O' Malley -- that’s what he wanted.  I couldn’t do that… I couldn’t do that.  ‘62 was my biggest disappointment.

The following interview was originally published on the SABR Business of Baseball website, and can be read here: SABR Business of Baseball Interviews Page

Interview conducted by Maury Brown on 4/23/05.
Transcribed by Andy Gefen, Maury Brown, Cameron Doolittle, John Hagemann, Don Ward and Steven Charnick.



Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?