Maybe what they were saying about Gene Mauch mellowing was true after all, for there he was, stretched beneath the afternoon sun wearing nothing but his undershorts and looking for all the world, his unconventional attire aside, like some middle-aged layabout catching a few rays at Malibu. Could this inert sunbather possibly be the same human dynamo whose intensity has always been so palpable that, according to one of his former pitchers, Bruce Kison, you didn't have to see him staring at you, "You could feel it on your back"?
Well, appearances can be deceiving. Mauch wasn't on any beach; he was just outside the visitors' dugout down the first base line at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. And he wasn't sunbathing; he was sweating. "I love to sweat," he explained. "I love the feel of it." It was a good day for sweating—99° and air so thick you could see it. And Mauch wasn't just lazing about letting his mind meander along frivolous pathways. His statistical charts were at his side, and he was conjuring up ways for his California Angels to clobber the Orioles that night.
Mauch's busy manager's mind is never ever at rest, for that matter. It is a beehive aswarm with statistics and stratagems, situations and alternatives. Charlie Metro, an old baseball hand, once said of him, "You can outpersonnel Gene Mauch, but there's no way you can out-maneuver or outslick him." Or outwork him. Mauch was out there sweating and thinking in the ball park on that brutally hot September day a full seven hours before the game was to begin. That's normal for him. Anything short of an 11-hour workday seven days a week is considered criminal indolence. His wife, Nina Lee, once said of him, "There's no doubt in my mind that if Gene were single, he'd sleep at the park. He'd move in, in fact, and live there the year round." Once again, as he has so relentlessly in the past, Mauch is flogging an undermanned and overmatched team to exceed itself in a pennant race. "He's doing it with mirrors." even the reporters covering the team say. The Angels were picked by preseason forecasters to finish no higher than fourth in the American League West. This very magazine rated them 24th among the 26 major league teams. But with Mauch shuffling the aged and infirm, the beardless and the incompetent, in and out of his constantly fluctuating lineup—145 different orders in 155 games—the Angels were poised at the top of the AL West with a week to go.
The Angels are dead last in the American League in hitting. They will finish the season without a top 10 hitter, a 100-RBI man, or a 20-game winner. But they will shine in two areas their cerebral manager swears by, defense (the Angels are second in the AL in fielding) and one-run victories (they are 29 and 13). They're also good at coming back from a trouncing. Eleven times this season opposing teams have blown them out by scoring 10 or more runs. Nine times the Angels have come back the next day to win. "The job he's done keeping that team in first place is just unbelievable," says infielder-DH Roy Smalley III of the Minnesota Twins, who is Mauch's nephew and hardly an unbiased observer but nevertheless reflects sentiments heard around the league, even on Mauch's own team.
Mauch is considered even by his severest critics to be probably the game's most astute and daring tactician, a manager who will try anything anytime and yet never without some contemplation of the consequences. Against Baltimore last month he used five infielders and two outfielders in a bases-loaded, no-out ninth-inning situation. The gamble failed when the Orioles' Mike Young drilled the game-winning hit past the first baseman. But there is no question that Mauch, who never joins the finicky multitudes that second-guess him, will try it again if the circumstances arise. "It takes a good manager and a gutsy manager to think of it and use it," said Baltimore manager Earl Weaver afterward.
For the most part, Mauch's gambits and ploys, conventional and off-the-wall, have been successful this year. "Just look at the one-run games," says his former general manager, Buzzy Bavasi, now retired. "Walter Alston always said that a good manager wins the one-run games." Still, it is outside the white lines where Mauch, who has never been known to be especially chummy with his players, seems to have found himself. The old Mauch could be a chilly presence.
"You'd walk by him in the hotel lobby and he wouldn't even look at you, let alone say hello," says Cleveland Indians manager Pat Corrales, who caught for Mauch when he managed the Phillies in the '60s. "He was from the old school, a real hardnose. He could intimidate you without ever opening his mouth." Mauch is, by all accounts, a changed man. After a two-year hiatus and a crushing personal trauma, he has come back to the Angels as a more compassionate and, yes, mellow human being—although no one would hazard suggesting that to his face.
"We have superstars on this team who aren't great players anymore," says Reggie Jackson, who calls Mauch the Prime Minister instead of the customary Little General because "it has more class." Mauch let Jackson, a DH the past few seasons, play in the outfield for much of the early season, and Jackson feels it rejuvenated his career. "Gene respects his stars," he says. "I know I've been handled right. My ego has changed, but I've still got one, and he's recognized that. I think since he's come back he's better able to see the big picture."
"He's the best prepared of all the managers I've played for," says Doug DeCinces, who played for Weaver in Baltimore. "Playing against him you get a whole different view of him. You see him in that opposite dugout as this arrogant little commander. But his approach is positive, so much so that I feel like I'm letting him down when I can't play or when I haven't played well."
"He's the perfect manager," says Jackson. "He communicates, he disciplines, he fires up young players, he fires up stars. No player beats him to the ball park. He's all baseball. He's the perfect manager. Except he hasn't won."
Ay, there's the rub. Most of Mauch's career numbers are on the debit side of the ledger. "If it's true you learn from adversity," Mauch once told Nina Lee, "then I must be the smartest sumbitch in the whole world." He holds the major league record for the most consecutive seasons without a championship—23. His 1961 Phillies set a modern major league record for losses in a row with 23, and though he is eighth on the alltime list in games managed (3,610) and ninth in games won (1,731), he is also fourth in games lost (1,876). These milestones have been reached with a succession of teams that were barely major league.
In his first big league job he took over a Phillies team in 1960 that had finished last the previous two seasons and had such unpromising prospects that Mauch's immediate predecessor, Eddie Sawyer, quit after the Opening Day loss, informing owner Bob Carpenter, "I'm 49 years old and I want to make 50." Mauch managed the Phillies longer—from April of '60 to almost the middle of the 1968 season—than anyone in the modern era, and he returned the franchise to a measure of respectability. He moved directly from that reclamation project to an expansion team, the Expos, that was fully as dreadful as any he had had in Philly. By the time he departed, after the '75 season, the Expos were close to .500.
In 1976 he pressed on to Minnesota, timing his arrival with owner Calvin Griffith's unhappy realization that he could no longer compete with baseball's big-money boys in the modern world of free-agent baseball and wildly escalating salaries. Mauch presided over the precipitous descent of the Griffith enterprise, exercising all his wiles to cushion the fall. His '77 team, picked as an also-ran, led the American League West for 51 days and was in contention until September, when pitching weaknesses were finally exposed, and it lost 18 of 27 games to finish fourth, 7½ games behind Kansas City. Mauch stayed in Minnesota, through not much thick and increasing thin, through 125 games of the '80 season.
Then it was on to California and an owner, Gene Autry, who, unlike Griffith, was willing to spend prodigiously, but often for stars who either succumbed immediately to crippling infirmities or established beyond dissent that they had passed their primes. And yet with all this travail, Mauch won Manager of the Year awards in 1962, '64 and '73.
He was widely and justifiably acclaimed for making silk purses out of sows' ears. In truth, he did this all too well, for on at least two demoralizing occasions he took mostly undeserving teams to the brink of success, and then when they failed at last, it was he who took the rap for their downfall.
Mauch is an unnerving man to talk with because he does not immediately respond to questions, no matter how inoffensive they may seem. A grim silence may well follow "How are you?" Then, just when you surmise that he has rejected your inquiry as the prattling of an imbecile and are prepared sheepishly to pursue a different conversational avenue, the words cascade from him. It isn't that he has ignored what has been said, it's just that he has actually been thinking about it. Imagine that. Here's someone who actually thinks before he speaks. Extraordinary! "He's probably never made a move in his life that he hasn't thought out," says his sister, Jolene, who's married to Mauch's former Cubs roommate of years ago, Roy Smalley Jr. (Mauch in his long career has managed at different times both his brother-in-law and his nephew.) "Gene works things out," says Jolene, who lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "There's always a Plan B. When he doesn't answer, he's sorting out which answer to give."
After a particularly tough loss to Kansas City last month, Mauch was asked by a courageous reporter if he thought his young pitchers, who had thrown so well early in the season, were now all going sour at once. The reporter was armed for the death rays that Mauch's steel gray eyes discharge to penetrate human flesh. There was, of course, no immediate answer. Then, after an excruciating interval, Mauch replied mildly, "I'm still thinking about this game, so that's a little complicated for me to answer right now. It's not that your question doesn't deserve an answer, it's just that I'm not up to it tonight." Talk about mellow.
And so, under that blistering Baltimore sun, he is asked if the game that has been the cause of so much hurt has also been fun for him. Now there's a question deserving of a double whammy from those twin grays. Pause. The lighting of a Marlboro. A hand through the short-cropped silver hair. A puff of smoke. The application of clogs to bare feet. A slow unfolding from the chair he has set up alongside the dugout. A stretch. The pack of Marlboros dropped contemplatively into the undershorts. A quick descent of the dugout steps. And then, when all seems lost: "The most fun was the first 150 games of '64. That little team could flat play. Nobody thought we had a chance to win, but for the first 150, nobody played better than those kids. We didn't have great talent, but we had great execution. In all my years, I don't think I've ever seen anyone play both sides of the game [hitting and fielding] as well as Doug DeCinces did in '82, but Johnny Callison came close in '64. If we hadn't screwed it up, he'd have had the MVP locked up. You know, they've always said I pitched Bunning and Short too much at the end. Let them have their fun with that version. I've never told anyone what I thought happened, and I never will. The funny thing is, some people seem to think the only year I managed was 1964."
The '64 Phillies, a ragtag bunch with two good pitchers in Jim Bunning (19-8) and Chris Short (17-9), a hot Callison (31 homers, 104 RBIs), a rookie flash, Richie (later Dick) Allen, and not much else, had won 90 of those first 150 games and were 6½ games ahead in the National League pennant race with 12 games left to play at a time when there were no divisions and no playoffs to clutter things up. They had been picked to finish no higher than fifth, and here they were, Whiz Kids reborn, about to lock it up. But those last dozen games didn't look to be a Cakewalk, and Mauch knew it. Frank Thomas, acquired to provide righthanded power in August, had carried the team over a 32-game stretch, driving in 26 runs. But on Sept. 8, he jammed a thumb and was out for the rest of the year. Starters Dennis Bennett and Ray Culp had sore arms. The bullpen, anchored by Jack Baldschun, was shaky. Mauch decided that if he was going to hold on, he had better stick with his aces, Bunning and Short, pitching on short rest. Actually, says Toronto pitching coach Al Widmar, the Phillies' pitching coach at the time, "it was their idea. Bunning and Short came to him and told him that's what they wanted to do."
With the pennant there for the taking, Mauch's Phillies lost 10 in a row and dropped out of first. They won their last two against Cincinnati and tied the Reds for second, a game behind the Cardinals. The 92 wins were the most by any Phillies team up to that time, and Mauch beat out Johnny Keane of the winning Cardinals for Manager of the Year. His contract was extended. The terrible collapse haunts him still. He has heard the names, Bunning and Short, as often, presumably, as another failed leader has heard those of Ehrlichman and Haldeman. He managed the Phillies until 1968, feuding along the way with stars Callison and Allen, both of whom he had nurtured in their baseball infancy. When it came to a showdown with the eccentric and rebellious Allen, Mauch was sent packing, 55 games into the '68 season.
Counting this year, Mauch says he has had three legitimate chances to win it all. His second chance came in 1982, when he took an Angel team that had finished fifth in the AL West the year before to a division championship. The Angels of '82, already graying at the temples, had some power in Jackson, DeCinces and Don Baylor. The starting pitching, only fair, was given a late-season boost by the acquisition of Tommy John. The bullpen was weak, its closer being a rookie, Luis Sanchez. Still, the Angels swept the first two games of the playoffs with Milwaukee's Brew Crew behind John and Kison. The pennant seemed virtually assured since no team in either league had lost the first two games and come back to win the playoffs. The demons that dog Mauch's footsteps would change all that. The Brewers took the third game at home 5-3, and Mauch came back with his ace, John. But John, 39 and unaccustomed to pitching with three days' rest, was bombed as the Brewers evened the series with a 9-5 win.
In the fifth and final game, the Angels were leading 3-2 when Milwaukee loaded the bases with two out in the seventh. Sanchez, a righthander, was the Angels' pitcher, but a lefthander, Andy Hassler, had been warming up in the bullpen. The percentages called for Mauch to bring Hassler in to face the next hitter, Cecil Cooper, a lefty. But no, Mauch stayed with his ace. Cooper lined a single to left that drove home the tying and winning runs. Mauch had missed the brass ring again. Bunning and Short!
Mauch was roundly criticized for starting John and leaving Sanchez in too long. His players disagreed. "Hell, even if you give him one loss, we still lost the other two, didn't we?" said Jackson. "The whole thing was so unnecessary," said DeCinces. "The blame didn't lie with him at all. We had a lot of players who just didn't have a good series. When he didn't come back for the next season, a lot of us felt bad."
As in '64, Mauch felt no need to justify his moves. But others have. Says Roy Smalley III: "Gene had seen both pitchers [Sanchez and Hassler] all year. Sanchez was the stopper. With Hassler, if you make him throw strikes, he's not as tough because his strength is to make you hit pitches out of the strike zone. But Gene didn't have that kind of leeway, because Cooper doesn't swing at bad balls, and he couldn't put him on base without walking a run in. So Cooper gets the hit. You can second-guess, but Gene believed with all his heart he was right."
There was perhaps even more disappointment in the front office over the Milwaukee calamity than there was on the field. Autry, who had just turned 75, saw this team as his best and perhaps last chance for a champion. He is a kindly man, but the appalling defeats left him angry and querulous. When asked if Mauch was returning as manager in '83, he gave no reply. Bavasi, who had built the team for Autry, was even more devastated by the loss than he was by that most famous of all playoff games, in 1951, when he was the Dodgers' general manager. "To me that was a bigger disappointment than Bobby Thomson," he says, rehashing the disaster from his home in La Jolla, Calif. "The Dodgers at least had won the pennant before. We hadn't, and we had it right in our hands. We were all unhappy about it, but I can assure you not one of us said one word of criticism about the way the series was managed. In retrospect, I think the mistake we made was in not telling Gene right away that we didn't think it was his fault. But then it was our understanding that Gene would be back for another year. When we offered him a contract, he turned it down. He just said he'd like to get away for a while."
So Mauch, hurt, angry, disillusioned, seemingly abandoned, walked away from baseball. He was going back to the home he and Nina Lee had on the ninth hole of the Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs. He would play golf and bridge and spend more time with the wife he loved so dearly and who had been so patient through all those years of traveling and travail. He had weathered disappointment before. He was worried about not caring anymore. Within a short time, he would cease to care about anything in the world, for there was nothing in his long experience to prepare him for what would happen next. It would nearly finish him.
Gene William Mauch was born Nov. 18, 1925 in Salina, Kans., where his father, George, ran a profitable bakery business until the Depression wiped him out. "He went from being a very successful man at age 26 to where he didn't have anything," Mauch recalls. "And he still had to put bread on the table for my mother, my sister and me." At first, George Mauch worked as a roughneck in the oil fields of central Kansas. "We lived in all those little towns," says Mauch. "Concordia, Hays, Dodge City, Schoen-chen, Ellis, Russell, Jetmore. Jetmore had 914 people, 910 when we left." On one night shift at the wells in the dead of winter, George Mauch's hands were so frozen to the rig that he had to be pried loose by his fellow workers.
In the summer, Gene and Jolene walked to school "carrying bologna sandwiches in brown paper sacks through dust so thick you couldn't see the sidewalk." In the winter they plodded through snow. One day, when Gene was 12 and his sister nine, they took a forbidden shortcut home on the banks of the Smoky Hill River in Salina. Jolene slipped and fell through the ice into the freezing water. Gene jumped in after her and struggled to get her ashore. The two made it to the bank and then slipped back in again. "We were like frogs climbing out of a well—we'd go three forward and two back." After what seemed like hours, they finally clambered to safety, but the experience remains riveting to Mauch. "We were nine and 12, and I thought that was as far as we were going to get."
"He called me Squeedunk back then," says Jolene. "He kept calling me that in the water. He was much more frightened than I, because this was his little sister and he was responsible. He was always responsible. I always felt I had three parents—my mother, my father and Gene. My brother was and is a unique personality. He intends to be good."
It wasn't long after this that George Mauch decided to move the family to California. He went first, living by his wits in Los Angeles as a "car chiseler," someone who buys cars from one party and sells them to another for a profit. Eventually, before his death at 49, he would become general manager of an auto dealership. After several months in L.A., George sent for his wife, Mamie, and Gene and Jolene. The children were anxious to move. "What the hell," says Gene, "I was never in one town long enough to become attached to anything. Besides, we weren't moving away from anything but a lot of dust."
His father had an extra motive for moving the family west: Gene had shown great promise as an athlete, and George wanted to give him every chance to play. At 13, the boy was cocky, aggressive and smart, "a hot ticket," as he describes his young self. He was good at all sports and he was student body president of Berendo Junior High School. It was there he met Nina Lee Taylor, a lively girl who was then, and would remain for the rest of her life, pretty as a picture. They became sweethearts and stayed that way. Seven years after they met, in December of 1945, they were married.
Mauch decided to go to Fremont High in L.A., the best baseball school in town. It was outside his district, but he was willing to travel the 40 minutes crosstown on the S streetcar to play with some of the hottest athletes in Southern California. Gene wanted the action. He is as fiercely proud of his alma mater as any Yalie or Notre Dame alum is of his. He can recite the names of virtually every Fremont graduate who has played major league baseball, beginning with his first idol, Bobby Doerr, the brilliant Red Sox second baseman. He played all sports at Fremont and was president of the student council. He was a handsome, well-built youngster, 5'10" and wiry, and the Fremont coeds took notice. But Nina Lee was his girl.
His American Legion team, Sunrise Post of L.A., won the national championship in '42, whipping along the way Stockham Post of St. Louis, sparked by a hard-hitting outfielder named Lawrence Berra, who would be called Yogi. Mauch's nickname was Skippy or, prophetically. Skipper. Eight players from that championship Legion team signed major league contracts, and Mauch was one of them. Branch Rickey signed him up personally for the Dodgers in 1943 and sent him to the Durham, N.C. farm club in the Piedmont League. He was barely 17. His roommate there, at Ma Gregory's rooming house, was an 18-year-old fireballer from Omaha, Rex Barney. "Gene was a smart player even then," recalls Barney, now the Orioles' public address voice. "He was very aggressive and scrappy, a Stanky type. He'd fight at the drop of a hat, but he always had Nina Lee, his girlfriend back home, to calm him down. I remember Mr. Rickey liked him because he had brains and desire."
In 1944 Mauch, at 18, was to be the Dodgers' shortstop. It was a war year, and Pee Wee Reese, the once and future shortstop, was in the Navy. Mauch took the assignment in stride. "Nothing overwhelmed me then. I'd never done anything but good. I had it all figured out. But what did I know?" Working out with manager Leo Durocher in spring training, he fired a double-play ball to Leo, playing second, and broke his right thumb. It seemed an unpromising start. Not at all. "Leo gave me a brand-new tweed topcoat the next day. It was out of gratitude. He didn't want to play anymore, and I gave him the perfect excuse."
Mauch played only five games for the Dodgers that year before being sent to Montreal. He was in the Air Corps in '44 and '45, and for the next 14 years he bounced back and forth between the minors and six major league teams. He was a Stanky type all right, fearless and canny, but he lacked even that prototype's minimal talent.
Typically, Mauch was harder on himself than any manager, other than Mauch, could ever be. Del Crandall, who played with him on the Braves, recalls a furious Mauch snatching up a razor in the clubhouse after a game in which he had stranded five or six base runners. "I didn't know what he was going to do," says Crandall. "Well, he didn't cut his throat, but he did dry-shave. Blood was coming down his cheek, but he kept right on going, mumbling to himself." Mauch may well have been more dangerous with a razor than a bat. In 304 major league games, he averaged .239. But he did not go unnoticed. Billy Southworth, his manager with the Braves in 1950, was the first to tell him he was managerial material. "Just one word of advice, Skip," he told Mauch, "don't ever fall in love with your ballplayers."
Mauch did manage the Atlanta Crackers in the Southern Association in 1953 to a third-place finish, but it was a debilitating, if instructive, experience. He was only 27 and still playing, and he fought with everyone in the league—umpires, opposing players, his own players. The strain was too much. He went from 173 to 153 pounds, and he learned that "you can't tell your players off if they're better than you." When he finally got his chance to manage again, in 1958, he was ready. He took the Triple A Minneapolis Millers to the Junior World Series against the International League champion two years in a row. And in 1960 he finally got his break, if you can call it that, when an old friend from his Braves days, Phillies general manager John Quinn, summoned him to take over for poor Sawyer.
For all of the frustration he has endured, Mauch has had one helluva lot of fun at the helm. With the Phillies he once transposed his first-and third-base coaches, explaining afterward, "Everything was so fouled up I thought I must've had my coaches in the wrong place." Twice he has overturned postgame food tables after tough losses, prompting Baylor to inquire of him on his first day with the Angels, "Will the food be served on the floor?" He has belabored his office door with a fungo bat, challenged Steve Carlton to a fight, been a merciless bench jockey, provoked brawls and baited umps with the worst of them.
If anything, Mauch's posturing and apparently superior attitude may have worked against him. Opposing players have always taken special pleasure in beating his teams. Joe Nuxhall, the old Reds pitcher, once said of Mauch: "I especially like to beat that little so-and-so. Do you see him showboating out there? He isn't even saying anything to the umpires, but he's still standing there. And I don't like the things he says. Who does he think he is?"
Mauch is unmoved by such vituperative outbursts from the opposition. He once knocked a ball out of an opposing catcher's mitt after that player had charged into his dugout to make the catch. He was, it develops, within the rules in doing so. He has made enemies of his players, but most respect him and some love him. Butch Wynegar, his catcher at Minnesota, called Mauch aside after he learned the manager was leaving, to say thanks and goodby. He cried so hard he couldn't utter a word. Mauch was deeply touched. Like all "tough guys," he's terrified of the sentimentality that hums within him like a Gypsy violin. His sister laughingly calls him "mid-Victorian" in his morality. And he would learn a lesson about himself.
"My parents were...well...just like two people going steady," says Leanne Epling, now 35, sitting in the living room of her farmhouse outside Sacramento. "In all my years of growing up, I never heard them really upset with each other. Oh, he would get upset when Mom called him cute. 'I'm not cute!' he'd shout. But he was—and is—such a handsome man. He was always a changed person when he got home from the ball park. We didn't do a lot of things outside the house because he just liked being with the two of us, although we did see a lot of Jolene's family. Big Roy would play the ukulele and we'd all sing together. We had good times together."
"Nina Lee was my idol," says Jolene. "She was cute and pretty and sweet and giving and enormously strong. And I'd ruin my brother's reputation if I told you how tender and caring he is."
Not long after Mauch left the Angels, Nina Lee fell ill. She seemed to recover, but then on April 6, 1983, the family was informed that she had a melanoma, a usually fatal form of cancer. She told her husband that she was sorry because she knew how hard this was going to be on him. Four months later she died, five months before what would have been the couple's 38th wedding anniversary. Mauch had known it was coming, but he couldn't control his response. "Everything else in his life had been planned," said his daughter. "This was suddenly humbling. Now nothing mattered to him. Everything he had worked for seemed meaningless. He was a wreck."
"He'd never tell you it was a depression, because he hates words like that, but that's what it was," says his sister. "He'd lost interest in everything. He never dreamed he'd be left alone. I didn't know if he'd ever come back from it. I remember thinking he'll die a bitter old man. He kept asking, 'Why?' Why should this happen to someone who was so good? Well, I told him I'd always been a good girl, and I lost a daughter when she was only eight. I told him he was negating everything that Nina Lee lived for. I told him she wanted him to continue to be the man she loved." Jolene smiles sadly. "Well, if there's one characteristic that typifies my brother it's his resiliency. It was a matter of time."
In mid-September of '83, Bavasi asked Mauch to rejoin the Angels as director of player personnel, a job he had originally held in 1981 before taking over as manager for the first time. It's a position Mauch had always considered a sinecure, a way of "stealing money." He took it. if for no other reason than to get out of the house, but he found it impossible under the circumstances to become even remotely involved with the team. He had lost the will to care about anything.
Mauch commuted to the ball park in 1984 from Rancho Mirage, an hour and 40 minutes away. He would take his seat in the rear of the press box and sit there silently through a game, a forbidding, gloomy, unapproachable presence. But toward the end of that season, his love of baseball began to tug at his grief. It was a gentle pull at first, but with the Angels in the pennant race again he felt a stirring inside, a rekindling of old fires.
The Angels were playing in Kansas City the last week of the '84 season, and Mauch surprisingly made the trip with the team. The Angels still had a mathematical shot at the division title, so the games were critical. It was also understood in the front office at that time that manager John McNamara did not plan to return for 1985. Mauch took up his seat in the rear of the press box. As always, he was left to himself. But something was happening to him. Late in a close game. Willie Wilson hit a sharp ground ball to second baseman Bobby Grich. Rod Carew was late covering first, so Grich held up his throw for an agonizing moment as Wilson, one of the game's swiftest runners, sped down the line. Then, from the rear of the press box there came a mighty roar, a sound familiar to any who had been with this team for a while. "Throw the goddamned ball!" There was a surging urgency to that cry. It was compelling. Heads turned in astonishment to where Mauch, silent these many months, was sitting. But he was already on his way to the door. He wasn't going anywhere. He was coming back. "A man," he says, "has to care. Or he's nothing."