Throughout his life, Leland Stanford MacPhail has been able to do just about anything he considered worthy of his undivided attention. He has been successful as a soldier, a lawyer, a businessman, baseball impresario, cattle breeder and racing-stable proprietor. He has made a couple of million dollars and, at 69, is full of plans (for a real estate subdivision and an 18-hole golf course now under construction) that will probably make him a good deal more.
Long before he began to make his own fortune, MacPhail was accustomed to comfortable living. His father, Curtis McPhail (MacPhail changed the spelling of his last name, contending that his father's version was insufficiently Scottish), owned a string of small-town banks in Michigan, and although he was a careful man with a dollar, the family lived well. MacPhail's mother, Catherine MacMurtrie McPhail, was—like her husband—second-generation Scottish. She selected the name Leland Stanford because of her friendship for the wife of the U.S. Senator who endowed Leland Stanford Jr. University in memory of his son.
MacPhail was a good student. In his teens he passed the entrance examinations for the U.S. Naval Academy but decided to go to Beloit College in Wisconsin instead. Later he transferred to the University of Michigan, then won his law degree at George Washington University.
In World War I MacPhail rose to the rank of captain and command of an artillery battery in France. In World War II, a full colonel and assistant to Under Secretary of War Robert Patterson, he not only got to the fighting fronts again but once stood on a ship's bridge with Churchill himself. Although Churchill addressed none of his remarks to MacPhail, the colonel was close enough to observe with admiration the Prime Minister's downing of two double brandies in quick succession and to hear him growl to the astonished Under Secretary, "Robert, long ago I learned to make alcohol my servant and not my master!"
MacPhail has frequently found himself in distinguished company. In a wartime audience with the late Pope Pius XII, he declined the Pontiff's offer to send a special blessing to the Brooklyn Dodgers, then in last place under MacPhail's successor, Branch Rickey, by saying, "Your Holiness, I doubt if even a papal benediction would help the Dodgers now." He rubbed elbows with the top brass in Washington. He knew John Foster Dulles intimately; they were fraternity brothers and bridge companions at George Washington University. Elder Statesman Bernard Baruch is a friend and admirer of MacPhail who has often shared his box at the races. These contacts with the celebrated did not in any way diminish MacPhail's ability to communicate with bush league ballplayers, jockeys and stable boys, nor his predilection for getting into fights with cops, headwaiters and shipside porters, one of whom chased him up a gangplank at Havana with a knife in a dispute over the size of a tip.
MacPhail argued his first case as a lawyer at 20. He found the courtroom a most congenial arena for his talents, and with his flaming red hair, his quick mind, his lung power and gift for nonstop oratory, he had all the equipment usually associated with great trial lawyers. He has retained a great affection for the law and through the years has been in and out of court as counsel, plaintiff, defendant and prisoner at the bar—and on the winning side more often than not. He was prepared, just this summer, to appear as attorney for Mrs. MacPhail and fight a $6 traffic violation charge, but the charge was not pressed. Drawing on his knowledge of the law, MacPhail has frequently confounded antagonists in simple disputes by putting his side of the argument on paper and then referring to the document as "this legal brief I hold in my hand."
A football player in his college days and lifelong football fan, MacPhail made a hobby of refereeing the big-time games back in the 1930s. (It was during this period that a sportswriter's assumption that the L in his name stood for Larry fastened the nickname on him for life.) He was sought after as an official from coast to coast and respected for his fearless decisions, sometimes in the face of dangerously hostile crowds. The group of officials with whom MacPhail regularly worked (including Frank Lane, present general manager of baseball's Cleveland Indians) was responsible for introducing the signals for penalties that are in common use today.
When MacPhail went into baseball, it was inevitable that such a positive thinker would stand the national game on its ear. MacPhail began with the purchase of the Columbus club in the American Association, selling it to the St. Louis Cardinals and staying on as president. From that day onward, through his tenures at Cincinnati, Brooklyn and New York, he came up with one startling innovation after the other: he pioneered air travel for ball clubs, the first radio broadcasts of a team's full season schedule, night baseball in the majors, fireworks, foot races and other pregame entertainment. No detail was too small for his attention: he made consumer surveys to find out who the real fans were, he studied every hot dog on the market, and when he found what he wanted in Schmidt's German Franks ("a very superior wiener"), he not only boosted sales at the park but had the dogs packaged for the fans to buy and take home. He fired the ball park hangers-on who were serving as ushers and hired pretty girls as usherettes. He tried to get the big leagues to adopt a yellow ball at night. He made the first experiments with protective headgear. He sponsored a radio program of longhair music to promote interest of highbrows in baseball. He conceived the idea of the first dining and drinking club for season box holders, the Yankees' Stadium Club. He painted grandstand seats in brilliant colors, he kept his ball parks spick-and-span and neglected nothing that would contribute to the comfort of spectators. And at the same time, as the canniest of traders and a sound judge of talent, he was building ball clubs that won pennants in both major leagues and one world championship.
When MacPhail retired from baseball in 1947, there were sighs of relief from more than one baseball man. When he announced that he would now devote his attention to the breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds, there were murmurs of apprehension among some horsemen. Both reactions were quite justified. For if baseball had never seen anyone like brilliant, bellicose Larry MacPhail, neither—for all its colorful characters—had the tight little world of the running horse.
MacPhail is one of the great talkers. Although most of his highly publicized talk has been on sporting subjects, he enjoys gabbing about almost anything. At various times while I was with him, he spoke on the art of making good coffee ("Let the water pass through the grounds only once"); on the relative merits of various eating apples; the proper way to drink beer ("Keep it at a constant temperature, not too cold"); the soundness of the Eisenhower method of broiling a steak ("Rub in all the salt and garlic it will take and throw it directly on the coals"); how to prepare frogs' legs ("Parboil and fry in deep fat"). He recited the varieties of birds he had observed at his 1,000-acre Maryland farm; he said that the goose shooting on the Eastern Shore was the best in the world, but that the goose itself was not very good eating. He said a man had never eaten Maryland crab until he had eaten it steamed. He described what he would consider an ideal year abroad: Ireland in the summer for the racing; Scotland in September for the beauties of the fall; London in the winter for the theater season. Sometimes, when old baseball controversies were raked over, he blew up as explosively as ever he did at Crosley Field, Ebbets Field or Yankee Stadium.
One day I was sitting on a low stone wall outside the guest house at the farm, waiting for MacPhail. We were going to Pimlico to see two of his horses run, but first he was going to show me around the stables. This was the day I had determined to ask MacPhail about the time he was arrested for fighting with state police at Bowie (and, in consequence, barred from the track of which he was president). But as I waited, I drew a notebook from my pocket and got interested in some notes I had on MacPhail's baseball career in Brooklyn. His flamboyant personality and belligerence and loud clothes suited that borough exactly, and when MacPhail made Leo Durocher manager—with his pugnacity and even louder clothes—it was almost more good fortune than Brooklyn could bear. Together they brought Brooklyn its first National League pennant in 21 years. A fair sample of how MacPhail operated seemed to be reflected in notes I had made on a game played June 18, 1940, when Joe Medwick, the Dodger outfielder, was struck on the head by a ball pitched by Bob Bowman of the St. Louis Cardinals. Next day The New York Times reported:
"In the Brooklyn dugout, Larry MacPhail, the Dodger president, had to be held back by Chuck Dressen and Babe Phelps. After Med wick had been removed from the field, MacPhail did cross over toward the Cardinal bench and there had heated words with the visitors."
The New York Herald Tribune said:
"Larry MacPhail, who saw the accident from the press box, rushed at once to the Dodger dugout. So angry was the Dodger president that he had to be restrained from entering the Cardinal dugout.
"With Dressen and Durocher trying to hold him back, MacPhail walked across the field and challenged the Cardinal bench."
A year later, The New Yorker described the same incident:
"...The spectators...cheered as they watched MacPhail's arrival on the scene. Waving his arms and roaring in his vibrant moose voice, he galloped down the aisles of the grandstand and across the diamond to the pitcher's box.... As one umpire said later, 'MacPhail came down here and tried to provoke a riot.'"
Look magazine had occasion to refer to the matter four years after that. In its issue of July 10, 1945, Sportswriter Tom Meany wrote, "MacPhail charged from his box onto the field, threatened Bowman and the Cardinals."
Aside from minor conflicts about the manner of MacPhail's approach (running from the press box, charging from his own box, galloping down the aisles and out to the pitcher's mound and struggling from the arms of Dressen and Phelps and from the arms of Dressen and Durocher), there seemed to be no doubt that MacPhail had gone out on the field.
A screen door slammed and I looked up to see MacPhail coming down the walk, swinging along, a big bunch of carrots in one hand. As he approached I got up and said, "How about that time in Brooklyn when Joe Medwick was beaned and you ran out on the field and challenged the whole Cardinal bench?"
MacPhail stopped and stared at me. "I've just been reading here," I said, gesturing with my notebook, "about the incident."
"I didn't run out on the field that day," said MacPhail slowly. "I went directly to the clubhouse to see how badly Medwick was hurt."
"That must have been afterward," I said nervously, holding up my note-book, "because I copied it out of the papers."
"I don't care what you copied out of the papers," said MacPhail, his voice rising a little. "I didn't go out on the field."
"But The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune both say so," I protested. "And on top of that, two magazines also describe—"
"I was never," roared MacPhail, shaking the carrots under my nose, "never on a ball field during the progress of a game in my life! Is that definite enough?"
Drawing back a trifle, I said, "Certainly. That's definite enough for me."
MacPhail grabbed my arm. "Come on down to the stallion barn. I want to show you something."
As we walked along, I tried to weigh MacPhail's reputation for veracity (testified to by all his friends) against the clear-cut testimony of eyewitnesses. Giving all parties the best of it, I decided that what had "happened was this: the situation on the ball field when Medwick was beaned so cried out for MacPhail that the sportswriters had been the victims of a hallucination which also had afflicted the crowds in the stands with a kind of mass hypnosis. It was that—or MacPhail had subconsciously erased the memory.
"What I'll do when we get to the stallion barn," said MacPhail, chuckling in anticipation, "is start feeding these carrots to Sea Charger. Then you just watch General Staff."
Sea Charger is one of MacPhail's more successful stallions; Ouija Board, winner of the National Stallion Stakes at Belmont this season, is a colt from his second crop. General Staff, at 4, won $121,000 with eight victories, six of them stakes and, upon retirement to stud, was syndicated for $250,000 with MacPhail retaining approximately a third interest.
MacPhail walked briskly into the stallion barn, ostentatiously ignoring General Staff, greeting Sea Charger loudly and affectionately as he opened the stall door and held out a carrot. Across the way General Staff's ears shot forward as MacPhail fed Sea Charger, remarking, with sidelong glances at the General, "These are the finest carrots I've seen in years. Absolutely delicious."
In a moment General Staff's ears lay back and he started to paw the stall floor and snort in a tentative kind of way. MacPhail ignored him, stroking Sea Charger, feeding him carrot after carrot. The pawing became more pronounced.
"Pawing doesn't get any carrots," MacPhail declared without turning around. "I don't pay off for pawing. Kicking is what gets carrots around here. Let's hear some kicking." There was silence for a few seconds, except for Sea Charger's munching. Then the whole barn seemed to tremble as General Staff let fly with a hoof at the wall of the stall.
"Now that's what I call kicking," cried MacPhail, promptly shutting the stall door on Sea Charger and hurrying over to General Staff. "That's the kind of kicking that will get a horse carrots around this barn." He opened the door and started to feed General Staff.
I watched, and after a moment I said, "How did you find this farm in the first place?"
"Well," said MacPhail, handing me a carrot, "I decided that I wanted a farm back in 1940 when I was with the Dodgers. I tried to find one within commuting distance of New York. I looked all over Bucks County, Pa., New Jersey, Connecticut and New York state but couldn't find enough land for what I had in mind. Finally my friendship with Alfred Vanderbilt led me to Maryland. I looked all over the Eastern Shore, then one day a real estate agent took me to this place. It was pretty run-down, the house was in terrible shape, but the terrain was beautiful and there was running spring water in every field. I asked my friend, Bill Terry of the Giants, and my brother, Herman, to fly down and take a look at the place. They agreed with me that it had great possibilities." He took a bite of carrot. "Aren't these good?" he asked.
"Delicious," I said. The three of us, General Staff, MacPhail and I, stood munching for a moment and then I asked, "What's the theory behind this operation here, I mean raising purebred cattle and Thoroughbred horses?"
"You can't make money on a farm this size with a purebred Aberdeen Angus herd alone," said MacPhail. "It had been my idea that a combination of purebred cattle and horses could be successful from an economic standpoint—in Maryland. Maryland is not a cattle state. To raise beef cattle successfully, you've got to be able to raise cheap feed."
"When you're starting from scratch as a breeder of Thoroughbreds," I said, "how do you go about it, especially when you haven't had any real experience?"
"Oh," said MacPhail, "I don't think I was an absolute amateur. I had always been interested in horses. I had studied a lot and had some ideas of my own about how horses could be raised. I had some good friends among the top breeders, like Colonel Harry Knight in Kentucky and Alfred Vanderbilt here in Maryland. But, of course, the problem was to get brood mares. Alfred Vanderbilt sold me the first three but, practically speaking, you can't buy a top brood mare unless the mare is very old or somebody just doesn't know it's a top brood mare. At least you can't buy one except at a price that is usually far more than the mare is worth.
"So the only way you can obtain brood mares on a basis you can afford is to buy two or three yearling fillies every year and race them. The good ones, the ones that show potentialities, you keep, and the others you get rid of. In that way you have a chance to build up a good brood mare band. Right now here at Glenangus, we have 36 brood mares and they've been culled, you might say, from a total of about 150 that I've owned.
"The danger in a brood mare band is that your mares become antiquated, and you wake up some day and realize that the average age of your band is 15 or 16 and that in another year they won't be producing offspring. I think the ideal average age for a brood mare band is about 10. You can have some old mares, but you've got to have some 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, too, to keep the average. Every successful stud has to begin to sell mares when they begin to reach maturity in order to keep the average age at a reasonable level. Now I sold one of my mares, Bellesoeur, last summer to Mr. George Humphrey, the former Secretary of the Treasury, because she was just too expensive for me to maintain. I'm not selling at Saratoga any more, and so a mare that was worth the money Bellesoeur was worth should be owned by a man breeding for racing purposes, like Mr. Humphrey or Mr. A. B. Hancock. I paid $57,000 for Bellesoeur but had three foals from her. I sold one for $37,500 and have another colt I think is worth as much and an option on a second foal that is now at Mr. Hancock's farm in Kentucky. Mr. Humphrey paid me about what I had paid for Bellesoeur, so she was a very profitable mare."
"You turned a nice profit on Demobilize," I said.
MacPhail nodded, "I paid $4,000 for Demobilize and sold him for $100,000 to Travis M. Kerr, who has gotten back $64,145 in purses so far."
We had finished our carrots. MacPhail gave General Staff a final petting and closed the stall door. "Wouldn't it be something," I said, "if after winning pennants in both major leagues, you should turn up with a Kentucky Derby winner some day?"
MacPhail jerked a thumb in the direction of General Staff.
"We had a Derby winner in this fellow," he said, "if the trainer and I hadn't made some mistakes. In 1950 General Staff had some trouble with his ankles, and if we had stopped racing him after the Pimlico Futurity that year and rested the horse, I'm convinced he would have won the Kentucky Derby in 1951. But instead of resting him, we took him to Florida and raced him in the winter stakes and he broke down before the Derby. I'm convinced he would have won at Churchill Downs because he had already beaten Count Turf, the Derby winner. But when he broke down, we had to fire him and then he didn't race again until he was 4. Then he won those eight races and wound up winning $157,800 all told, a lot of money in those days."
MacPhail shook his head.
"It could happen again. Nobody in the horse business ever commits suicide. You always think you'll find another Man o' War."
We walked out of the barn and on to another one to see the current crop of foals. Here there was a point of irritation. An error in the breeding schedule had matched a mare with the wrong stallion (for blood type) and a jaundiced foal had resulted.
"Hell," cried MacPhail to Tom Price, in charge of the barn, "I thought there were at least two people with brains around here, you and me, but now I don't know about you." Tom Price said, "Nobody told me about that mare, Colonel." MacPhail peered into the stall. "The mare shouldn't have been allowed to nurse that foal. That foal may not live." Tom shook his head. "Nobody told me, Colonel," he said, "I wasn't told a thing."
MacPhail walked away. Then he turned and demanded: "How do you feel?" Tom said he felt pretty good. "That nosebleed I had," he added, "left me a little weak. I lost considerable blood, quarts." MacPhail nodded. "How old are you, Tom?" Tom said, heck, he was 70. "Take care of yourself, Tom," said MacPhail.
He walked out of the barn and stopped to watch some of his men stacking bales of hay in another barn. "That's no way to stack hay," he called out. "You leave those air spaces between those bales and it's going to spoil." One of the men called back, "Oh, we intend to stuff those spaces, Colonel." MacPhail grunted and walked on.
Down the road Creola, the maid from the main house, sat under a tree. MacPhail stopped and looked at her and grinned. She smiled back. "What are you doing sitting there, Creola?" asked MacPhail. "Sitting here," said Creola, "working a crossword puzzle, waiting for my husband to come pick me up."
MacPhail rubbed his chin and said, "You let that fellow keep you waiting like this? I thought you were the boss, like me."
Creola laughed and said, "Oh, I am the boss, like you. I am the boss in some ways."
We went down to the yearling barn and Joe Magner, formerly of Limerick, Ireland, brought out the 17 yearlings one by one and discussed the prospects of each with MacPhail. While they were talking, Magner's 5-year-old blonde, blue-eyed daughter, Deirdre, came into the yard. MacPhail immediately turned to her. "What's this I hear about you graduating from kindergarten tonight?" Deirdre smiled and hung her head modestly. "Well, what I want to know," said MacPhail, "is why wasn't I invited?" The smile faded from Deirdre's face. "Only the parents," she protested, "only the parents are invited." MacPhail pretended to think about that, then he nodded and said, "Well, all right. I thought maybe you just forgot me." Deirdre shook her head.
"Only the parents," she repeated.
It was time to start for Pimlico. MacPhail is an expert driver but a one-finger-on-the-wheel type and sometimes no-hands for an instant as he gestures in the telling of a story. As we rolled along, I said, thinking back over the tour of the stables, "I guess you don't have time to miss baseball."
MacPhail shook his head. "I miss it most in the spring. Then I get the itch and the urge. I wouldn't say I miss the games during the season. But I do miss the associations. I went in to see the Orioles and the Yankees play the other night [MacPhail's son Lee is general manager of the Baltimore Orioles] and I sat with Charley Keller, my old outfielder with the Yankees, and Charley and I agreed that we missed the old associations of baseball."
MacPhail chuckled. "I asked Charley how his boy was doing in Class-D ball and he said that he'd been up 13 times and struck out 10 times. 'Well, Charley,' I said, 'Class-D leagues are tougher these days because there aren't so many of them and what talent there is is concentrated in those leagues. In the old days the talent was spread out more and Class-D competition wasn't as keen.' Charley agreed to that.
"Then we thought of Joe McCarthy who was my manager in my first year with the Yankees. We got to wondering what Joe would do to snap the Yanks out of their slump. He would have done something, because in my opinion Joe McCarthy was a master psychologist. He never went to college and would have laughed at you if you called him any kind of psychologist, but that's exactly what he was. Charley Keller said Joe didn't handle any two ballplayers the same way. He said he handled him different than he did DiMaggio and DiMaggio different than he did anybody else on the club."
MacPhail took both hands from the wheel for a second and flung out his arms. "Oh, I had some great managers working for me through the years," he said, "Joe McCarthy, Bucky Harris, Leo Durocher, Chuck Dressen, Casey Stengel at Kansas City in our minor league organization. They were all great managers, they all got the most out of what material they happened to have. But they were all different. I remember Bill Meyer who managed the Kansas City club for me. Bill was great providing you gave him the type of ball club he wanted. Bill liked to run and he liked to hit and run and if you gave him boys who were fast on their feet, he was terrific. McCarthy, of course, had to be a different kind of manager. With men like Ruth, Gehrig, Henrich, Keller, Dickey and DiMaggio, you don't play for one run in an inning.
"All great managers and all great football coaches adapt their style of play to their material. I remember when the Michigan alumni were trying to crucify Mr. Fielding Yost. They said he didn't know anything about the modern game of football, they said the parade had passed him by. Then, a couple of years later, Mr. Yost came up with the greatest forward passing combination in history with Benny Friedman throwing and Bennie Oosterbaan receiving. But, of course, he couldn't play that kind of football when he didn't have the material. I remember Zuppke at Illinois used to say, 'Punt, pass and pray.' But when you didn't have the passers, you just had to punt and pray and when you didn't have the kickers, you just had to pray."
MacPhail was silent a moment and then he said, "Yes, you miss the associations. You always miss the associations."
MacPhail is as much at home at a race track as he used to be in a ball park. At Delaware Park, at Pimlico, at Monmouth, parking lot attendants, ticket takers, sellers, cashiers, waiters, bartenders, agents, jockeys, trainers, owners, all hail him as "Colonel" as he moves through the crowd, with the purposeful stride of, say, a football referee measuring off a penalty. People who do not know him at all, recognize him and call out, "What do you say there, Larry? How about those Yankees?" MacPhail grins and waves a greeting and bellows back at them, "Don't ask me, I'm out of all that!"
This day, at the entrance to the Pimlico clubhouse, MacPhail buttoned the collar of his sport shirt and drew a clip-on bow tie from his pocket to satisfy the clubhouse rule that gentlemen will wear jackets and neckties. He had two horses running that day, Royal Voyage in the fourth and Aberdeen in the sixth. I followed him along to the aisle to the clubhouse boxes, and the head usher spotted him right away and sang out, "How are you, Colonel!" and led the way to Alfred Vanderbilt's box at the finish line. (Vanderbilt wasn't there that day, but MacPhail has always used his box at the track. In the baseball days, Vanderbilt always sat in the MacPhail box at the ball park.)
After the second race we got up and went out to the bar and MacPhail had a brandy and soda. People crowded around him and Jimmy Stewart, an owner and breeder generally beloved as "Irish Jimmy," invited him to have another drink, and he did because Stewart's horse, Rustic Billy, had won the second race. Stewart, it developed, hadn't had even a deuce on him.
The horse talk was thick and there was enormous good feeling and a lot of backslapping and laughing. It scarcely seemed the time to ask MacPhail about the fight with the cops at Bowie.
Before the fourth race, we went down to the paddock to watch MacPhail's trainer, Frank Whiteley Jr., saddle Royal Voyage. MacPhail talked to the jockey, to Whiteley, nothing of consequence being said, nothing much being expected of Royal Voyage. When the horses were led out, we started out after them and then, suddenly, MacPhail grabbed my arm.
"Wait a minute!" he cried. "There's a guy over there I want to needle a little bit. Come on!" Still holding my arm in a viselike grip, he hustled me along like a bouncer ejecting an undesirable patron from a barroom. When we had reached the man he had indicated, he thrust me in front of him, then knocked me slightly to one side with a jab from his elbow. I steadied myself as MacPhail put his chin close to the face of the man, a powerfully built citizen who drew back just a little and averted his eyes. Reaching for my coat collar, MacPhail grasped it tightly and pushed me back and forth as he addressed the man.
"Say," he cried, "I happened to be walking behind you coming out of here the other day and I was very surprised, very surprised and shocked to overhear you using some very bad language!"
The man drew back his chin and glanced around nervously. "Don't know what you're talking about," he said.
"Why, yes," MacPhail went on, darting a glance at me. "I couldn't believe my ears. I thought a man like you never used strong language. But this was just terrible. You used some very bad words."
"Must have been somebody else," the man said. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, yes, you do," said MacPhail, "and I just wanted you to know how disappointed and how shocked I was to hear such terrible language coming from a man like you." He turned away, releasing my coat collar. The man turned and vanished into the crowd. MacPhail exploded with laughter, and drawing back his arm he delivered me a resounding whack on the seat of the pants. As I staggered forward, I managed to blurt out over my shoulder, "Who was that?"
"Oh, he testified against me in the hearing before the racing commission," MacPhail said as we started for the box, "after that trouble at Bowie. He said I used some bad words in an argument."
I drew out my notebook and consulted it swiftly. "Was that Alan T. Clarke of Clarksville or J. Yancey Christmas of Marlboro?"
"That was Christmas," said MacPhail, starting back to the clubhouse.
Hastily reading from my notes as I hurried along after MacPhail, I saw that (according to press reports) Yancey Christmas, testifying to the manner of MacPhail's entrance into the Bowie clubhouse and his ringing denunciation of a group of fellow horsemen on a matter of purse values, had told the members of the racing commission that MacPhail "acted like a drunken man." When Christmas was asked about the language MacPhail used, Yancey requested that the doors of the hearing room be closed. Alan T. Clarke, meanwhile, had testified that MacPhail called him a liar, and he added, "I would have socked him if it hadn't been for his condition." Springing to MacPhail's defense, Morris Shapiro, Baltimore horseman, who was another eye-and-ear witness, said that MacPhail seemed "perfectly all right" to him, "the same as always," and "strictly business."
The time had clearly come, at last, to hear about that day at Bowie.
When we were settled in the box, MacPhail said, "I wasn't any more intoxicated that day than I am right now. I had had a couple of Martinis, that's all. I don't deny I have had more than I could handle on some occasions in my life, but this wasn't one of them."
"Now," I said, pressing my advantage, "all this had nothing to do with what happened later as you were leaving the track?"
"No," said MacPhail. "What happened there was that traffic was beginning to get snarled up and these cops were sitting on an embankment doing nothing about it. I got out of the car and yelled over to them to get up off their big fat fannies and do something about the traffic. One of them came over and got a little belligerent. We exchanged some words and then he grabbed me and got a hammerlock on me and I gave him the knee. He fell down and then another cop rushed over and the two of them jumped me together and got handcuffs on me and arrested me and took me off to the station at Hyattsville."
"You were released on bail," I said, "but you didn't appear in court to answer the charges. You forfeited the $250 bail."
"I didn't want to take a chance on a frame-up," said MacPhail.
For his conduct on that memorable afternoon, the Maryland Racing Commission barred MacPhail from even entering the Bowie premises despite the fact that he had organized (with Donald Lillis) the syndicate that purchased the track and as president had been responsible for $2 million worth of improvements in the plant. If his former colleagues expected the barring of MacPhail from the track to chasten him, they could not have been more wrong. He sued, alleging breach of contract, won and collected a judgment of $99,971.10. A short time after that he broke into the headlines again as co-chairman of a $100-a-plate dinner for the benefit of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. "If Baltimore will support this dinner," MacPhail declared as loudly as ever he bellowed in the Bowie clubhouse or at the cops in the traffic jam outside, "we will guarantee to see that the symphony stays in the future."
Suddenly, back in the box at Pimlico, MacPhail was bellowing again. His horse, Royal Voyage, was coming down the stretch, coming from far back in a great spurt to win by a head. A little later in the afternoon, MacPhail's Aberdeen won handily in the sixth race. It was MacPhail's day.
I put my notebook away. I had a note to ask MacPhail how he happened to say of Branch Rickey, "There but for the grace of God goes God." But a discussion of the classic feud between two of baseball's most colorful figures, I felt, could wait for a more auspicious time—say, the cruise we were scheduled to take on MacPhail's boat over the weekend.
A weekend cruise on the Jean KM; the big feud with Rickey; an office in Columbus; what happened at Cincinnati; young Jeanie comes through.