Through as stormy a career as ever rocked, shocked and shook up big league baseball and Thoroughbred horse racing, Leland Stanford (Larry) MacPhail has gone bulldozing along, confounding his critics, justifying the faith of his friends with comeback after comeback, time and again turning apparent failure into success, seeming disaster into triumph.
Nothing fazes MacPhail. When he was a big-time football referee, bitterly partisan crowds more than once swarmed over the field to get at him. He stared them down. He took two world wars in his stride, as a captain in one, a colonel in the other. He flourished in good times and bad: with night baseball he showed club owners how to increase attendance at the bottom of a depression.
He has thrived on public criticism. He has been unchastened by what most men would consider public embarrassment. One time, when he was running the Cincinnati ball club, he got in a fight with a police sergeant in the elevator of a hotel. Next day the incident was prominently reported on Page One. Thomas Conroy, banker and director of the Cincinnati club, rushed to MacPhail's home where he expected to find him remorseful and penitent. Instead, Conroy said recently, he found MacPhail, showing the marks of battle, one eye swollen shut, chortling over the newspapers. His first words to Conroy were: "Man, how do you like that for publicity!"
MacPhail has weathered some very bad breaks and has been unchanged by some extraordinarily good ones. The comforts that fortune has sent his way—like the $2 million he made out of the New York Yankees, the 1,000-acre horse and cattle farm, the Jaguar, the Chrysler, the station wagons and the boat that awaits his pleasure in Florida in the wintertime and on Chesapeake Bay in the summer—MacPhail accepts as no more than proper rewards for hard work and enterprise.
August 30, 1959
Nothing fazes MacPhail, but certain old controversies (which I have been dredging up in our continuing conversations) scarcely had a tranquilizing effect on him. I had saved the most explosive subject for the last.
The Jean KM, a 58-foot diesel-powered Burger cruiser, backed away from the Georgetown, Maryland yacht basin and pointed down the Sassafras River for a weekend cruise on Chesapeake Bay.
Seated in deck chairs were the MacPhails: Larry, his wife Jean and their 8-year-old daughter, Jeanie Katherine MacMurtrie MacPhail, for whom the boat was named.
After a while Jeanie went forward and in a moment she could be heard, faintly, practicing on her toy flute, a project that had been occupying her for a week or more.
MacPhail, hearing the flute, gestured in a pretense of anguish. "Oh, no," he groaned, "she didn't bring that flute?"
"She said she absolutely needed more practice," smiled Mrs. MacPhail. There was to be a toy flute chorus at the public school Jeanie attends in Bel Air, Md., a single performance of a work entitled, Shoo, Fly, Don't Bother Me.
MacPhail grinned and shook his head. He got up and joined his skipper at the wheel, studying the charts. He asked the captain if he was quite clear about where they wanted to go: the Great Oak Yacht Club on Fairlee Creek, another tributary of Chesapeake Bay. The captain said he knew exactly where it was.
MacPhail came back down to the deck and I stood beside him at the rail. Mrs. MacPhail sat reading a paperback book entitled A Family Affair. MacPhail pointed out some of the estates along the Sassafras and mentioned that there were 5,000 miles of waterways in the Chesapeake Bay area which, he said, unfortunately became almost intolerable with heat and humidity in July and August. Then the MacPhails usually took the boat farther north, up the Hudson perhaps or (as they did this summer) through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes. In the winter they live on the Jean KM for two or three months in Florida.
MacPhail turned away from the rail and I followed him below to the main cabin where he started looking through his records for selections to play on the boat's high-fidelity system. He asked me if there was anything I wanted to hear and I said he probably didn't have The Battle Hymn of the Republic as done by Fred Waring and his chorus.
"Got it right here," said MacPhail, consulting his index and adding the record to those on the player.
We settled down to talk, with the music softly in the background. I drew my notebook from my pocket and laid it beside me on the sofa, flipping over a few pages. MacPhail, seated across the cabin, looked at the notebook quizzically. It was not a notebook I was taking notes in. It was already filled with notes I had made before coming to see MacPhail for the first time, at his Maryland farm, about two weeks before. The notes included statements, highly critical of MacPhail in some cases, lavishly praising him in other cases, reporting things he had done in the heat of anger, like fighting policemen, newspapermen, baseball associates and the telephone company. From time to time, during my talks with MacPhail, I had quoted from the notebook. He had confirmed some things and denied others with vehemence. I still hadn't brought up the touchiest subject of all: MacPhail's long, running feud with Branch Rickey, the most celebrated personality conflict in baseball. As far as I could find out, the two men were still as far apart as their favorite drinks: MacPhail's brandy and soda, Rickey's root beer and milk.
It was a subject to be approached, I felt, with care. I was glad MacPhail had turned on the hi-fi. It gave me a chance to start with a noninflammable topic: his interest in music.
"Yes," said MacPhail, relaxing and taking his eyes off the notebook. "I've always loved the opera and symphonic music. I guess I've heard every great symphony orchestra in the United States and Europe. Mrs. MacPhail and I made a trip to Paris especially to hear the Vienna Symphony play the first concert by a foreign orchestra after the war."
"Do you have any favorite composer?" I asked.
MacPhail looked at me rather sharply.
"I don't think," he said, "you have a favorite composer. Maybe you have favorite symphonies."
"I guess that's what I meant."
"Oh, hell," said MacPhail, "I guess in the beginning I'd have said my favorite composer was Tchaikovsky. But now I'd say I also like Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Brahms, Dvorak. I have favorite conductors. I like Ormandy. I like Bernstein very much. I've always taken great satisfaction in the fact that when Leonard Bernstein played for the first time in Carnegie Hall I made the prediction that this young man would one day be the permanent conductor of the New York Philharmonic and, of course, that's exactly what happened."
"You sponsored a program of symphonic music on the radio when you were president of the Yankees."
"That's right," said MacPhail, "and when I was president of the Dodgers, Russell Bennett composed a symphony, Symphony in D he called it, and dedicated it to the Dodgers and to me. It had our radio announcer, Red Barber, as the narrator. It was performed for the first time by the Philharmonic during the summer concerts at Lewisohn Stadium in New York. At the conclusion the composer and the conductor took their bows and then I was called up to acknowledge the dedication. I made a little talk to the capacity crowd there in the stadium, but I had a little difficulty making myself heard. The orchestra kept booing me. They were Giant fans."
MacPhail chuckled and got up and went into the galley to fix some drinks. While he was gone, I flipped a few pages of my notebook to a section I had marked "Rickey vs. MacPhail."
In a moment MacPhail came out of the galley and put down some drinks on the table and took one up to Mrs. MacPhail. When he returned, he said, sipping his drink: "Next season, I hope to get out and hear some good music. I'm getting pretty tired of hearing MacPhail at the organ." He was referring to his habit of playing the organ in his living room back at Glenangus Farm.
The music came softly from the speakers at either end of the cabin. MacPhail relaxed, drumming his fingers in time with the music.
I picked up my notebook and leaned forward.
"I would like now," I said, "to speak of your great benefactor in baseball, Mr. Branch Rickey."
MacPhail's mouth dropped open. "My great what?"
I glanced at my notes. "Benefactor," I said. "An entry I have here says, 'MacPhail's great benefactor, responsible for MacPhail's success in baseball,' and so on and so forth. 'Put MacPhail in as president of Columbus club, recommended him for Cincinnati and Brooklyn jobs.' Etcetera, etcetera." I looked up.
MacPhail had slowly risen to his feet. He hitched up his trousers. He took a final sip from his glass and set it down carefully.
The record player had played its way down to my record, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The chorus sang, "Mine eyes have seen the glory...." I looked up at MacPhail, then back at my notebook. It was too late to turn back now. I quoted another excerpt: "When MacPhail was desperately seeking a new manager at Brooklyn, he called Rickey and pleaded for advice from his old benefactor. 'Why, Larry,' said Rickey, 'you have a man on the club right now who has fine potential as a manager.' 'Who is it, Branch?' cried MacPhail. Rickey replied, 'Leo Durocher.' "
A sound erupted from MacPhail that was a cross between the bellow of a lovesick bull and the blast of a diesel locomotive's horn. It rose over Fred Waring's shouting chorus and reduced it, drums and all, to the level of Jeanie MacPhail's toy flute.
The sound trailed off and I leaped into the lull. "Of course," I said, "that's only one version. Another version says it was John McDonald, your traveling secretary at Brooklyn, who suggested Durocher although you never gave him credit."
This last had a sudden calming effect on MacPhail, like a second blow from a sledge hammer. He sank down on the sofa, picked up his empty glass and looked into it.
The Fred Waring chorus concluded rousingly with "Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth goes marching on!" It was the last record on the player.
MacPhail again arose with deliberation. He straightened his shoulders and flung his arms as though he intended to throw away his hands. He spoke, as to a judge on the bench, lapsing perhaps into the role of the trial lawyer he was in his youth.
"Let the record show," he said with great restraint, "that I did not introduce the name of Branch Rickey into this conversation. Furthermore, let it be noted that I have never, at any time, gratuitously attacked Mr. Rickey except where it was necessary for me to correct or answer statements or charges by him against me."
Now, then," said MacPhail, walking over to where I was seated. I braced myself, for I had learned during our conferences that MacPhail, in the friendliest of fashions, is given to pushing, jabbing, pummeling and shaking the listener, only for the purpose of emphasizing a point. (It had occurred to me in this connection that the chief operator of the Bel Air telephone exchange who had charged that MacPhail "pushed" her in an argument over a telephone call might have mistaken the gesture as being of an antagonistic nature—which, in the case of MacPhail, does not follow at all. Of course, in the telephone case, MacPhail's position was weakened by the charge of the manager of the telephone exchange, who said MacPhail also struck him on the face with the palm of his hand. This latter charge no doubt influenced the arresting officers as well as the judge, who fined MacPhail $50 and costs.)
"Now, then," said MacPhail, "Branch Rickey never did a damn thing for me except to fire me at Columbus."
"Why did he fire you?"
"Because I wouldn't resign without Rickey spelling out the exact charges against me."
"Did you have any idea of what the charges might be?"
"I asked for a statement of the charges against me. Mr. Rickey hasn't made that statement yet.
"Now what happened was that after I had left, the Columbus club was accused of having violated the $400-a-month-salary limit and had paid several players an additional amount under the table, so to speak."
"You didn't make any such under-the-table deals?"
"I did not!" cried MacPhail. "I wasn't with the club any more when those charges were made. Columbus was convicted and fined by the American Association of violating the salary limit. In other words, Columbus was convicted of cheating. Columbus appealed this decision to Judge Bramham, the president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, but Judge Bramham upheld the conviction. He also added that he had not commented on anything I might have had to do with it since I was no longer in baseball.
"Now, I wanted this thing to be absolutely clear. I called Judge Landis. He was in Galveston, Texas at the time. I asked him for a full hearing, and he called in all the players involved and investigated the entire matter. When the hearing was over he issued a statement saying that I had had nothing to do with signing those players. In other words, it was proved to the satisfaction of Judge Landis that I had not cheated."
I looked at my notes.
"But it was Rickey who put you in as president of the Columbus club?"
MacPhail stared at me incredulously.
"How," he demanded, "could he put me in as president when I was already president? I organized the syndicate that bought the club from Sidney Weil of Cincinnati. When, as club president, I sold the club to the Cardinals, I agreed to remain as president at the request of Sam Breadon of the Cardinals." He thought briefly and added: "One of the finest men I have ever known, a man I respected and loved until the day he died."
I consulted my notebook. "I have a note here, source confidential, that you irritated Rickey by your manner of running the ball club at Columbus. You did too much entertaining, you gave yourself an office that was better than any office in the big league."
"Hah," he exclaimed, "that office. What happened there was that the contractor was able to beat the estimate and get a bonus of $50,000. He came to me and said he'd like to do something for me to show his appreciation for the way I had been of help to him. So he went ahead and paneled my office in walnut or something at a cost to him of $5,000. Just about that time, I saw that a local store was having a sale of some Oriental rugs damaged in a fire. I went down and bought some for next to nothing. Some time after that I was in St. Louis and Mr. Sam Breadon called me into his "office. He said, 'MacPhail, look around this office here. Do you see any wood paneling on the walls or any Oriental rugs on the floor?' I said, 'I know what you're talking about, Mr. Breadon. You're talking about my office at Columbus. I want to ask you would you take wood paneling if you could get it for nothing, would you take Oriental rugs if you could get them at a fire sale for the price of the linoleum you've got on your floor here?' Breadon said he guessed he would."
MacPhail leaned over and pushed me. "It was easy to guess who had been carrying tales."
"No comment," said MacPhail.
"Colonel MacPhail," I said, "so now we have you out of baseball. You go from Columbus back to join your father and brother in the banking and investment business in Grand Rapids, Mich. Then the Central Trust Company of Cincinnati is forced to foreclose on Mr. Sidney Weil, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds. The bank finds itself in the baseball business and desperately needs an experienced baseball man to take over. Feelers are put out to Branch Rickey to see if he is interested. He is not but he recommends you and you get the job."
"Nothing of the kind," roared MacPhail. "Rickey had nothing to do with it. I was hired by the board of directors and approved as a member of the National League by a unanimous vote, with Mr. Breadon of St. Louis casting the first vote in my favor. Furthermore, Judge Landis was called on the telephone by Mr. John Heydler, president of the National League, and asked if there would be any objection to me for any reason whatsoever. Judge Landis replied that he considered Mr. MacPhail capable of filling any job with any major league ball club from bat boy to president!"
I held up my notebook. "I read now from the minutes of that National League meeting which voted on your acceptance as a league member. Mr. Rickey is asked, with special reference to your tenure at Columbus, to make a statement about your qualifications for the Cincinnati thing, to say if there is any reason why you should not have it. Mr. Rickey says, in part, and I quote: 'My opinion is that Mr. MacPhail is a man who will benefit the league in Cincinnati tremendously. Now, whether that answers your question or not, I do not know, but I am ready to make that statement very forcibly—apart from minor criticisms, to which we are all subject, that come from impulsive natures at times. ... I am referring to little things. It might be that he would be too trusting. For example, to put a concrete case before you, Larry MacPhail would be very trusting, let us say, to a friend of his, a newspaperman, John Jones, and he has him out to dinner tonight, and he casually observes a certain thing, makes a certain observation about something he proposes to do, let us say. He tells him that in confidence, as a statement in confidence, to be respected as such. From the standpoint of your own practical experience in baseball, that would have been a subject that MacPhail perhaps should not have told that man, but he did it, trustingly, and then the first thing he knows, something comes out of nowhere. I have known other baseball men in their early days to make the same mistake, if you can call it a mistake.' "
I looked up at MacPhail. "What was Mr. Rickey driving at there?"
MacPhail threw up his hands. "How the hell do I know? You tell me." I stood up. MacPhail pushed me and I sat down. "Go listen to some of Casey Stengel's doubletalk and ask him what he's driving at."
MacPhail peered out the porthole. "Where the devil are we? I'd better go take a look at the chart. I think we've passed Fairlee Creek."
He went up to the bridge.
I picked up my notebook. I pondered the case of Rickey vs. MacPhail. The key to the long-standing feud between these two giants (who had done more to change the face of baseball than any other two men or two hundred men ever connected with the game) was not to be found, it seemed to me, in the resolving of such basically simple questions as to whether Rickey helped MacPhail get his jobs at Cincinnati and Brooklyn. As a matter of fact, I had checked on that. Conroy, the Cincinnati banker, a warm friend and admirer of both Rickey and MacPhail, had told me that Rickey did indeed recommend MacPhail for the job with the Reds. On the other hand, James Mulvey, director of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had told me that it was Ford Frick, not Rickey, who recommended MacPhail at Brooklyn.
The record was further complicated by the fact that Rickey and MacPhail had more or less cordial dealings in player trades when MacPhail was at Cincinnati and Brooklyn. MacPhail hired Rickey's son, Branch Jr., to help run the Brooklyn farm system. Did Rickey tell MacPhail to make Leo Durocher manager of the Dodgers in 1939 or was it John McDonald, the traveling secretary, who claimed credit for the idea? Again, James Mulvey supported MacPhail. "Larry," he said, "knew all about Durocher's potential as a manager. He didn't need Rickey's advice on that and he certainly wasn't depending on his traveling secretary for counsel about anything so vital."
There were two incidents, either of which might have been enough to cause the breach between the two men to widen beyond hope of repair.
One arose out of the charge by Leo Durocher, then Brooklyn manager under Rickey, that MacPhail was entertaining gamblers in his box at Havana during spring training. When the charge was called to Rickey's attention, he deplored MacPhail's alleged consorting with gamblers. MacPhail demanded a hearing by Baseball Commissioner A. B. (Happy) Chandler and proved to the commissioner's satisfaction that Duro-cher's charge was groundless. As an aftermath of this hearing, Durocher was suspended for a year on an accumulation of other counts.
The second significant incident came when MacPhail was chairman of an interleague policy committee charged with working out a method for bringing Negro players into organized baseball. Before the committee could report, Rickey signed Jackie Robinson and, in MacPhail's view, undercut the work of the committee. Later, Rickey was quoted as saying in a speech at a Negro college that the major league clubs (with the exception of the Brooklyn Dodgers) had no intention of ever permitting Negroes to play in the big leagues.
In both cases MacPhail charged that Rickey was crediting himself with lofty motives for bringing about situations that were to his own advantage. To Rickey's professed anguish over Durocher's suspension, MacPhail replied that he wanted to get rid of Durocher anyway and didn't have the courage to fire him. To Rickey's claim that his signing of Jackie Robinson was prompted by a conscientious desire to correct an injustice, MacPhail issued a blistering bill of particulars, distributed by the Associated Press, concluding with:
"Rickey was not interested in doing something constructive for either baseball or the Negro players. In spite of the fact that he accepted an appointment by the major leagues to study this problem and report his findings, he doublecrossed his associates for his own personal advantage, raided the Negro leagues and took players without adequately compensating them for players he took. Rickey was not kidding anybody in baseball with all that bunk about his conscience...Churchill must have had Rickey in mind when he said [of Sir Stafford Cripps], 'There, but for the grace of God, goes God.' "
The boat was turning. MacPhail must have been right: we had gone past Fairlee Creek. As we swung around, a mournful sound came from up on deck. It was Jeanie MacPhail playing her toy flute, still struggling to master Shoo, Fly, against the fast approaching deadline. She didn't quite have it yet.
We had dinner at the Great Oak Yacht Club and afterward, walking around the grounds, I asked MacPhail, "You said you were fired at Columbus, and you quit Brooklyn to go in the Army. But why did you leave Cincinnati just when you seemed to be getting a pennant-winning team together?"
MacPhail said: "There were a number of reasons. Health was one of them. I had developed a nervous facial tic and the doctor said I had to slow down. Then, my father was getting on, and he and my brother Herman needed help in running the investment company back in Michigan in which I was a partner. And there were other considerations. I didn't see eye to eye with Mr. Powel Crosley Jr. on some things. I had gotten him interested in buying $150,000 worth of preferred stock in the club and I had turned over to him options I had on the common stock. It was understood that I would be allowed to buy one-third of the stock when I could finance the purchase. So far, although' Mr. Crosley had exercised options on part of the common stock, he would not permit me to exercise my end of the agreement."
MacPhail kicked at a pebble, hands thrust in his trouser pockets.
"Then there were a few other things. Mr. Crosley and I get along fine today, but in those old days I didn't like some of the things Mr. Crosley had done—like putting up a big refrigerator and a radio, products he manufactured, on the scoreboard. He had insisted on changing the name of the ball park to Crosley Field. I didn't think he had contributed anything to baseball up to that time that warranted naming a ball park after him. There were a lot of little things. He wanted me to fire Scotty Reston as club publicity man because Scotty was supposed to have made some disrespectful remarks about him at a country club bar. I wouldn't do it. (Scotty Reston is James B. Reston, present chief of The New York Times Washington Bureau.] Anyway, I told Ford Frick in August of that year that I wouldn't be back at Cincinnati the following season."
The MacPhails strolled on and I went back to the boat with Jeanie. We sat on the deck and Jeanie picked up a book. "Would you like to hear me read?" she said. I nodded.
Jeanie opened her book and began:
"One day as a little old woman was sweeping her house she found a crooked sixpence. 'What shall I do with this sixpence?' she thought as she polished it. I know, I will go to the market and buy a pig.' So she did. But as she was coming home from market, she came to a stile, and the pig refused to go over the stile. The little old woman went on until she met a spotted dog. She said to the dog, 'Dog, dog, bite pig, piggy won't get over the stile and I shan't get home tonight.' "
Jeanie looked up. "This is one of my absolute favorites."
"Mine, too," I said.
As she read on, I closed my eyes and thought about MacPhail and Rickey. It seemed to me that there was perhaps a good deal to be said on both sides. Allowances had to be made. Rickey's friends make allowances for his sometimes high-sounding declarations of his motives for doing what he does; MacPhail's friends are similarly generous in excusing his outbursts of temper. "Under certain circumstances," a MacPhail admirer had told me, "Larry is likely to take a poke at his best friend. But he'll be sorry and do everything he can to make it up. He doesn't hold a grudge, he's generous, he's honest as the day is long. For all his huffing and puffing, he's soft-hearted. He wouldn't tell a lie. He wouldn't do a cruel thing deliberately."
I heard Jeanie say, "Are you listening?"
"Oh, yes," I said, sitting up straight in my chair. "It's getting exciting."
"Ox, ox," continued Jeanie, "drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't get over the stile, and I shan't get home tonight."
I drifted off again. Mr. Rickey, I thought, could not be the hypocritical person his worst enemies have held him to be; he couldn't and live with himself. He must believe—or believe he believes—in what he professes to believe. Even if he (like MacPhail) could be proved wrong about some things, he must have been completely convinced that he was right. No man could live a whole lifetime of pretense. If Rickey and MacPhail were pitted against each other in a courtroom (an appropriate setting since both are lawyers), each could summon a long list of character witnesses. The more I thought about the courtroom scene, the more fitting it seemed. I had a vague feeling that there had been such a scene—and there had been. It was the famous monkey trial in Tennessee when an irreverent MacPhaillike Clarence Darrow was matched against a Bible-quoting Rickeylike William Jennings Bryan.
MacPhail is something like Dar-row, but his irreverence does not mean that he is irreligious. Like Darrow, he is brilliant, but principally because he makes certain he knows what he is talking about.
MacPhail is what Walter Mitty dreamed of being: the man who could do anything, tell off the boss to his face, put over the big deal, take a punch at the cop, say the things at the time that most people don't think of until next day.
At any rate, despite the wide gulf that separated them in temperament and character, Leland Stanford MacPhail and Branch Wesley Rickey had been good for baseball and baseball had been good to them. Out of the game played with bat and ball both had become millionaires and squires of great estates.
I came to just in time to hear Jeanie MacPhail concluding her reading:
"The cat began to kill the rat, the rat began to gnaw the rope, the rope began to hang the butcher, the butcher began to kill the ox, the ox began to drink the water, the water began to quench the fire, the fire began to burn the stick, the stick began to beat the dog, the dog began to bite the pig, the pig jumped over the stile and so the little old woman did get home that night after all."
Jeanie was a little breathless. "Wasn't that good?" she asked.
"That was wonderful," I said. "It's sort of like life, isn't it?"
At least, it was like life in the wonderful and absurd world of baseball, I thought. As Jeanie looked for another selection, a paraphrase suggested itself: "MacPhail began to beat the cop, the cop began to tell the judge, the judge began to set the fine, Rickey began to get the job, MacPhail began to blow his top, Chandler began to fire the Lip, the Lip began...." It was not too outrageous a summation, actually, of what I had copied into my notebook over the past weeks. And there it had been all the time in Jeanie MacPhail's book of nursery rhymes.
One morning, a few days after the Chesapeake Bay cruise, MacPhail was at his desk bright and early in the library of the main house at Glenangus Farm. He wore a sport jacket and an open sport shirt; his red hair was slicked back and he was bright-eyed and tanned from the weekend on the water. Following his usual routine at home, he had done a few theoretical miles on his Exercycle before taking the whirlpool bath that he finds beneficial in relieving some arthritic twinges in his hip. Creola, the maid, had brought him half a grapefruit and some black coffee and now he was squared away for the day's activities, dictating memos to a recording machine, talking on the phone to another Maryland horse farm, making arrangements to send over one of the brood mares for breeding. A call came from a glass company. It concluded a winter's hassle about the quality of the glass in the living room picture window. The glass company now conceded that MacPhail was right, the glass in the picture window was defective and it would be replaced. MacPhail looked over some letters his secretary had typed and signed half a dozen or so. An automobile dealer called and MacPhail told him he had decided to buy the Jaguar sedan he had been trying out. He would also take a new Chrysler.
Suddenly the tempo stepped up: Mrs. MacPhail came in and asked his opinion about a change of draperies in the living room; his trainer, Frank Whiteley Jr., called from Delaware Park and said Miss Thing, the filly that had won three straight races, was running a fever and would probably have to be scratched from the Polly Drummond Stakes. MacPhail signed, dictated, shuffled papers, talked on the phone and then, abruptly, at the peak of activity, the library door opened again and Jeanie MacPhail walked into the room, her toy flute in her hand. MacPhail stopped everything, put down the phone, looked at her and grinned. "My," he said, "if you don't look nice."
"Thank you," said Jeanie. Then, frowning a little, she held up the toy flute and said, "This is the day I have to play in the chorus. Could you listen to me play it through and tell me if it sounds all right?"
MacPhail leaned forward, cocked his head and said, "Go ahead."
Jeanie began. MacPhail listened intently, concentrating, nodding ever so slightly. Jeanie played on without faltering, the notes came out as strong and true as a toy flute can make them. It was Shoo, Fly, Don't Bother Me, unmistakably Shoo, Fly, played unerringly to the end.
Jeanie lowered the flute. MacPhail looked at her. Then he slapped the table and exclaimed, "You've got it! That's it, that's perfect, you'll knock 'em dead."
"Thank you, Daddy," said Jeanie, turning away.
"Wait a minute," cried MacPhail. Jeanie turned at the door.
"Who's in first place with you?" MacPhail said archly. It was an old game between them and he knew the answer that was coming.
Jeanie smiled and said, "David Russell." David is a red-headed 9-year-old neighbor so untouched by sophistication that he spells MacPhail with an F.
"That bricktop is still beating me out?" exclaimed MacPhail.
Jeanie nodded. "But you're No. 2."
MacPhail shrugged his shoulders. "Well, that's not too bad, I guess," he said.
Jeanie closed the door behind her. MacPhail leaned back in his chair and peered out the window to watch her go down to the walk to the car.
The phone rang. MacPhail picked it up and listened. Then he started to talk. It wasn't clear just what the discussion was about or who the caller was.
Whoever he was, MacPhail gave him hell.