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BRONX BANTER INTERVIEW: PAT JORDAN
2003-10-30 13:49
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

CULT FAILURE

Pat Jordan is from the Old School. He is not politically correct. He drinks booze and calls women broads, and frankly, doesn't care if you like it or not. He also writes in a clean, succinct style that is clearly old fashioned (God bless him). That may explain why you mainly see his work in The New York Times Magazine. Jordan was a bonus baby in the Braves organization in the late 1950’s. He was a promising young pitcher but never made it even close to the Majors. He later became a journalist, and a decade after his playing career ended, Jordan released “A False Spring,” a memoir about his baseball life (and death). “A False Spring” went on to become a minor classic. Less than ten years ago, Jordan wrote a follow-up memoir, “A Nice Tuesday,” in which he continued to examine what went wrong with his career as a jock. Jordan has also written several other sports books, as well as a thriller series, that according to the author, “isn’t so thrilling, but there is lots of sex and violence.”

I had the opportunity to speak with Jordan late this summer. He is a blunt but funny guy, a real straight shooter. Some of our conversation may seem dated, but I doubt that will be a problem for the reader. The Hot Stove is here, and this is a long one, so dig in and enjoy.

Bronx Banter: You are most famous for your first baseball memoir “A False Spring.” But I actually prefer the second one, “A Nice Tuesday.”

Pat Jordan: So do I. Nobody else does. I thought “A Nice Tuesday” was much better, but that’s the way it goes.

BB: I felt that the second book actually made the first one richer, deeper.

PJ: The other thing with the first book is that I assumed a persona. You know what I mean? And some of it doesn’t ring true to me today because it was a persona that I was working on. Whereas with “A Nice Tuesday” I didn’t have any persona. To me, it was much more natural. In other words, I wasn’t trying to create a character, it was just me. In “A False Spring” I created myself as much harder-edged than I really was. I wasn’t stupid enough to go up to two girls and say, “Oh, who are the cunts?” I wasn’t that dumb. It was too stylized as far as I was concerned. Whereas with “A Nice Tuesday” I didn’t have any motives other than just getting it all down.

BB: There was self-consciousness about the writing in “A False Spring” that didn’t exist in “A Nice Tuesday.”

PJ: Absolutely.

BB: You were in your early 30s when you wrote “A False Spring,” and the book is about you trying to figure out what happened to you in your early 20s. It felt as if you still didn’t really know what had happened yet.

PJ: Absolutely.

BB: “A Nice Tuesday” has the advantage of perspective. Also, you only hinted at your family story in the first book, and that is fleshed out much more in the second one.

PJ: I skipped over it in “A False Spring.” I think it’s only in the first chapter. The second book was really a memoir that had very little to do with baseball. You know, we had reviews that complained because it wasn’t “A False Spring.” One review out in San Diego by an ex-ballplayer complained there wasn’t enough baseball, and there was all this bullshit about dogs.

BB: I liked the stuff about your dogs.

PJ: Well even if you don’t like dogs, it was part of the whole thing. I was trying to use Bubba, for example, as a stand-in for me.

BB: He was the dog who got so unruly that you had to get rid of him. But you sympathized with him because he was just being his natural self.

PJ: Exactly. I was trying to say that at least I could change my personality a little bit as a human being, but poor Bubba was trapped into his. The difference between the two books is that “A False Spring” was plotted, and it was mechanical. In other words, I was going to touch every base: what it was like to be in Yankee Stadium, what it was like to be in spring training. “A Nice Tuesday” wasn’t plotted. I never planned on writing about dogs when I started the book. The original book was to be about pitching at 56. And then I started this stuff, and I called up my editor and said, “Do you mind if I put in this drag racing stuff?” He said, “No, go ahead.” I said, “What about this dog stuff? The dog’s keep popping up.” So what I learned with “A Nice Tuesday” is be less disciplined and more open to mystery, and to let things come that intruded themselves whenever they wanted to.

BB: Was “A False Spring” your first full-length book?

PJ: No, the first book I wrote was called “The Black Coach.” It was a book about a black football coach who took over a white high school football team in North Carolina in 1971, I think it was. 1972. That was really the first book I had ever written.

BB: Was it a novel?

PJ: Oh, no. It was a non-fiction book. It’s a good book. It’s pure reporting. On e-bay, they want a fortune for it. I’ve seen it go for $175-$200 for the book. All of my books are like leaves of grass. If you are lucky enough to have an unsigned copy, you are in great shape. I tell my friends who want it signed, no, keep the unsigned copy, it’s worth more.

BB: Did you write “Suitors of Spring” next?

PJ: Yeah, that was the second book. It was a collection of Sports Illustrated pieces. Then “A False Spring” was the third one. I had a three-book contract with this publisher, Dodd Mead, and “A False Spring” was the one that they really wanted. They wouldn’t give me enough to write it, so I said, “Do a collection of my Sports Illustrated pieces.” This way I’d get paid twice. That way I was able to write “A False Spring.” Which didn’t do well. It didn’t sell many books. None of my books have sold anything. I’m sort of like a cult failure. You know the guy from New Orleans who wrote “Confederacy of Dunces?” He was a cult success. I’m a cult failure.

BB: Hey, at least you’re alive to see your own failure.

PJ: Yeah, they either drink themselves to death or kill themselves. I can’t afford to, I’ve got too many bills. I have to keep working. Every time I think, “Oh, I can shoot myself,” I’m like, “But who is going to take care of the dogs and Susan? Who is going to pay the mortgage?” I can’t afford it.

BB: Susan, your second wife, is Meg Ryan’s mom.

PJ: That’s right.

BB: I really liked your observations about Meg Ryan’s acting. About how she plays it safe.

PJ: Oh yeah, she plays it safe. And at first I was putting her down. But when it came time for me to pitch again, I realized the kind of fears she must have to branch off into something different. Actually, my wife is doing a fit, because Meg Ryan is doing a movie called “In the Cut” which she has naked sex scenes in. I said, “Maybe she’ll blame that on you Susan, she blames everything else on you.” I’m dying to find out what kind of body she has. I said, “I’ve only had your body, maybe hers is better.” But I understand her completely. It’s like when you get that sliver of success, you are terrified that you might lose it. So you never do anything different. One of the problems with what I’ve done over the years is that I’ve never done the same thing. I didn’t do what George Plimpton did and write the same book five times. I have a novel out right now, and nobody has any idea that it’s me. It’s called, “AKA Sheila Weinstein.” It’s the second novel in a trilogy and there is no sports in it. But it keeps me interested.

BB: How long did you write for Sports Illustrated?

PJ: Seven or eight years. 1970-’78, something like that. Then I did books for a couple of years, then I worked for GQ for a couple of years. I write mostly for The New York Times [magazine] right now. I write for everybody, you name it. I had a piece in Playboy last month. I do whoever pays.

BB: The piece you did on Clemens a couple of years ago really changed my perception of the guy.

PJ: Roger? What did you think of him before you read it?

BB: Well, I’m a Yankee fan.

PJ: I’m a Yankee fan.

BB: Yeah, well, then you should know how I feel. I rooted against him for all those years. I hated Clemens. I just thought he was a big prick from Texas, by way of Boston and how much worse can you get than that for a Yankee fan? But I felt that you painted him as this big, goofy narcissist.

PJ: Yeah, he’s a total narcissist, but he’s also…he’s not bright. It’s sort of like being with an overgrown child. He’s a hyperactive child, all the time. I’m a believer that the reason he works out so hard is to burn off energy. Cause he’s like the kid that you have to keep chocolate away from, you know? You know when you have the kid, he can’t concentrate on anything and the doctor says, “Don’t let him eat chocolate?” That’s Roger Clemens. He’s not…he’s not a bad guy, he’s just arrested development, I guess. You think you are with an arrogant fourteen year-old kid when you’re with him. You’re not with a grown up.

BB: Have you been around Torre’s Yankee teams in the past five or six years?

PJ: Yeah. Oh, yeah I’ve been around them a lot. I did a piece on Torre for the Times, Bernie Williams, and Roger Clemens. I like the Yankee teams of the Paul O’Neill era. I’m not crazy about last year’s team or this year’s team. They’ve got all these guys with numbers. But when they had Paul O’Neill and Brosius and Knoblauch---guys that didn’t have any numbers, they won four World Series. Because those guys didn’t know how to lose. I mean, the greatest at-bat that I’ve ever seen, was against the Braves when John Rocker was pitching to Paul O’Neill.

BB: When Paulie O fisted the single through the right side.

PJ: Right. And he fouled off like twelve pitches. And here’s a left-handed pitcher, throwing to a left-handed hitter, and the pitcher is throwing 97 miles an hour---with that sweeping slider---and this guy stayed in there for like twelve or fourteen pitches, and hit a ground ball single, that either tied the game or put the Yankees ahead.

BB: I think it put them ahead.

PJ: I thought that was the greatest at-bat I’ve seen in baseball. Because there was no way Paul O’Neill should have gotten wood on the ball. That was what those Yankees were. These new Yankees…I like the Japanese guy. He’s a good ballplayer.

BB: Matsui fits right into the professional Yankee mold very well.

PJ: I like him.

BB: What about Giambi?

PJ: I don’t know if he’s got it. I mean, he’s a home run hitter, but I’m not sure. Matsui reminds me a little bit of O’Neill. Soriano, I don’t know. Jeter, I like, I like Williams.

BB: What were your impressions of Bernie after you did an article on him?

PJ: I like Bernie. Sensitive guy. I think he passes for being more sensitive than he truly is as a baseball player. With ballplayers, a little sensitivity goes a long way. I like Bernie a lot. I think he’s more spacey than sensitive. He passes as a sensitive guy, but really, he’s a space cadet.

BB: Part of it is that he looks sensitive, like Tim Duncan looks sensitive.

PJ: Yeah, with the glasses and he’s soft spoken.

BB: Bernie is a great player but he doesn’t seem like a natural on the baseball field. Jeter is a natural. Bernie came out with his first album this summer, and sometimes he strikes me as a musician who happens to play baseball for a living. He plays ball extremely well, but it’s not his true calling.

PJ: Bernie is the kind of guy where everybody will always be talking about his secondary thing. The kind of guy that no matter what he does, you say, “Yeah, but you should hear him play the guitar.” Or you should hear him do this, or do that. I think that’s what his curse is. That he does everything in such a way that he always gets credit for the secondary, or even third thing that he does. If he was a guitar player you’d say, “Yeah, but you should have seen him play baseball.”

BB: Bernie looks sensitive, just like Benetiz looks fierce.

PJ: With the gold chains. Somebody should rip that gold chain off of Weaver’s neck.

BB: What’s the deal with him anyway?

PJ: Weaver is a fucking wimp.

BB: Is that it?

PJ: It’s gotta be, because Weaver has good stuff. The other thing is, I’d raise his arm level about 45% and have him thrown 3/4 overhand, instead of that side arm shit that he throws. If he got his arm up, and was throwing 93, 94 miles an hour—he’s got a nice, loose delivery---the same fastball that goes left and right with him, would start going down. Once you raise his arm up, get him on top of the ball, that fastball would sink, instead of just left, right. I think that would make a world of difference with him as a pitcher. But, you know…who am I? I’m only a fucking writer.

BB: Is it difficult for a guy to make those adjustments once he’s in the majors for four, or five years?

PJ: Listen, nobody’s going to fuck with Roger Clemens if he’s winning 300 games. But where is Weaver going? He’s with the best club in baseball. I mean, every game he pitches, five innings, five runs, eight hits. If he doesn’t lose the game, he gets taken out and gets no decision. He’s got much better stuff than that.

BB: He looks difficult to talk with. Is it that he just doesn’t want to listen to what Stottlemyre has to tell him?

PJ: I think he’s scared. I don’t think he’s got a lot of balls. He looks scared. He doesn’t look like a guy who has got confidence. Like…I’m not a great Clemens fan, I don’t think Clemens is a gamer. I think Wells is. I like Wells a lot.

BB: What about Mussina?

PJ: I’m not crazy about him either. I’m not crazy about the Yankees starting staff. I’m not crazy about Pettitte, I’m not crazy about Mussina, I’m not crazy about Clemens. I wouldn’t put my money on any of them. I wouldn’t put my money on them like I’d put my money on Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling.

BB: What about Tim Hudson?

PJ: I haven’t seen him enough.

BB: You like Schilling?

PJ: I don’t like him personally, I think he’s an asshole, but I think he’s a strong pitcher. Oh, he’s an ego [driven] media hound, and bullshit artist. But Randy Johnson, I like as a person and he’s a great pitcher.

BB: What don’t you like about Mussina? Is it that he’s too smart for his own good, too cerebral?

PJ: His fastball is straight as a string. I’ve never seen such a straight fastball. He’s got good stuff, but I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. Same thing with Pettitte. He’ll have streaks where he’s unhittable and then he’ll have streaks where he can’t get anybody out. To tell you the truth, if I had to rely on anybody, I’d say that Wells is the best pitcher the Yankees got.

BB: What about Mo Rivera?

PJ: I like him. The guy throws, what is basically a 94 mph slider. His cutter. It’s not a breaking ball in the strike sense of the word; he doesn’t turn his wrist over and all that. But he throws a 94 mph breaking ball. And he’s got great control.

BB: And he’s not like Smoltz, who has three, four, or five different pitches.

PJ: I thought John Smoltz had the best stuff probably in the history of baseball. He’s got a 96-98 mph fastball; he’s got the slider that’s 92. Got a curveball that’s 88. He’s got great control. Some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. I saw him, first week of spring training, in Palm Springs when the Braves were here, and he was warming up in the bullpen. And the guy was unbelievable. I mean the ball was exploding after one week. And Chipper Jones walks by and makes some comment like, “Still working on your stuff, huh?” But he’s also an awfully weak guy.

BB: Mentally?

PJ: He’s not a strong guy.

BB: Maddux too?

PJ: I don’t know. Can’t win any big ones. I don’t like guys who don’t rely on great stuff. In playoff games, they never seem to do well. You never see those soft-tossers have great playoff runs. They have great years, but in the real crunch, you never see them have great series’. Whereas a power pitcher, even if they are off, they have that power. I would never trust one of those soft-tossers in a big series. I would go with my arms.

BB: Unless his name was Whitey Ford, right?

PJ: No?! Whitey Ford had stuff. You know what the Pittsburgh Pirates said about him when they beat them in the [1960] World Series? They asked Bill Mazerowski what Whitey Ford was, and he said he was Warren Spahn with stuff. Warren Spahn was not a bad pitcher. Whitey Ford, he wasn’t Moyer. He wasn’t even Maddux. No. Whitey Ford? He was my hero. You can’t say anything bad about Whitey.

BB: I love the story from “A False Spring” that involved Joe Torre in spring training.

PJ: You mean when he basically helped ruin my career?

BB: That's the one.

PJ: He didn’t mean it. Let me see how to put it…Joe had a lot of clout in spring training because of his brother Frank. I didn’t. Everybody was looking at him to be a big leaguer. Now, he didn’t get any more money than I did. It wasn’t like he was more talented or more of a prospect. Probably less of a prospect because he didn’t have a good arm or anything.

BB: He was a heavy kid?

PJ: Oh, he was fat. He was a fat kid. We were on the same team in spring training and I was pitching batting practice. A nothing thing. It was for Boise, Idaho, which was the Braves’ pitching team. Which meant, when you went to Boise, you won 18 games automatically because they sent all their best hitters there. It was where they sent their pitchers who they wanted to get confidence because the guys would score twelve runs a game, and every game was 15-6. They’d have earned run averages of 4.85. So you wanted to go to Boise because they had the horses. So I was with Boise. This was in the Northwest league. Torre was the catcher. And I had one of those spring training sore arms, which was not anything serious. It was like a weak arm. I was throwing batting practice and I couldn’t put anything on the ball. And the hitters were complaining. You know, they were ripping everything foul. I wasn’t soft tossing; I just couldn’t put anything on the ball. Joe kept firing the ball back at me, telling me to put something on the ball. And at one point, he walked like ten feet in front of the plate and fired the ball back at me. So he’s cheating now. He’s right on top of me. So I took the ball and turned around and threw it right at the back of his head, as he was walking back. Hit him on the mask. The mask flew off, and he came at me. And we start grappling there, tugging. It wasn’t much. We got separated. The next morning I got sent down to Davenport, the D class club. And I was told by one of the ballplayers---he had heard the managers talking--- and the manager from Boise said, “I won’t have that red ass Ginnea on my team.” My question was why was I the red ass Guinea and not Torre? We’re both Italian. I should have opened my mouth and said I had a sore arm but I didn’t. So I went to Davenport, which was the worst club in the Braves organization and I pitched well and went 6-12. This was the winter instructional league in the fall of ’61. It was all forgotten, and I had a good year that year.

BB: You’ve obviously been in touch with Torre since.

PJ: Oh yeah. If I see him he says “Hi Pat.” Torre and Phil Neikro I see every once in a while. Neikro’s a good man.

BB: Is Torre as genuine as he appears?

PJ: Yah. Joe did the same thing I did: he remade himself. He was an arrogant kid. And I really think he’s a good guy. I think Joe is a good guy.

BB: Did he change his personality during his playing days or is this something you’ve seen happen since he’s been a manager?

PJ: Ah, I don’t know. I didn’t know him much as a ballplayer, all those years in St. Louis. But as a manager: he’s a good guy. I believe that from the little I’ve met him, you know? I could be wrong, but he’s always been all right with me.

BB: Are you surprised that he’s lasted in Boss George’s world so long?

PJ: He’s that kind of guy. He’s deflected it. He doesn’t deflect it too much—look at what happened to Mondesi. Instead of squawking to the press about Mondesi, like most managers would do---he must have called somebody up and said, “I want this fucking guy out of here.” And a week later, he was gone. Benetiz, the same thing. Joe is smart enough not to do it in public. Probably makes a private phone call to somebody, “I can’t work with this guy.” Bernie Williams once told me…When Albert Belle was a free agent and almost came to New York [and Bernie almost became a Red Sox]. I said to Bernie, “Can you live with him in the clubhouse?” He said, “Oh yeah, yeah, we’ll make him adjust. And if he doesn’t,” he said, “he’ll be gone.” That was Bernie’s attitude: either fit in, or get out.

BB: Did you see the story on Barry Bonds toward the end of the year? It was about how he spent the summer caring for his father. He felt that he was finally able to gain his father’s approval before Bobby passed away. I thought it was a very moving piece.

PJ: Five years ago I wanted to do a story on Barry Bonds and his father, who was coaching there at the time. And Barry wasn’t even talking to his father then. Bonds’ people said that he wouldn’t do a story including his father. So, to be honest with you, it smacks of a deathbed confession kind of thing. OK, the father is dying, and I got his approval and blah, blah, blah. But when his father was healthy and was a coach for the Giants, the word out was that they didn’t get along. The New York Times wanted me to do a story on Barry and his father, and he wouldn’t do it. That’s what I know about Barry Bonds.

BB: Your father didn’t teach you how to play ball.

PJ: I had a unique situation where my brother was more of an influence on me than my father. My father was a professional gambler, and had much more weighty things on his mind. Plus, he was never an athlete. He was an Italian immigrant kid. He shot pool. That was about the only thing he ever did, sports-wise. He showed me a clipping once, that was from when he was in grammar school. He was the high scorer of a team that won 8-7 in a grammar school basketball game. And he scored four points. That was his name, Jordan. He was an athletic guy in that he was a good swimmer, good pool player. Oh, he was a good pool player. Real mechanic when it came to shooting pool. Great card dealer. He could do all kinds of tricks with cards. But he was never around. He used to go out on the road a lot to gamble. So he left the growing up to my brother, who was fourteen years older than me. So when I was five he was about twenty. When I was five, we moved from the inner city in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Fairfield, which were the suburbs. That’s the first time I ever saw a baseball diamond. Down the street from our house, there was a field and that’s where the kids hung out. I met a friend of mine Doug and he went on to be a coach with the Yankees for Billy Martin. Doug was my catcher; we were teammates and stuff like that. He was the first kid I ever met there, and the first thing we ever did was have a catch. That’s all I knew about baseball then. But in those days—we’re talking 1950—baseball was IT. I mean nobody played football. And basketball, that was just recreational. But baseball was it, so we’d all meet at the park and play. My father was never around but it was a good place for him to dump me off. Just so I could amuse myself. When I started to be fairly good, around the age of eight, I made the Little League’s Major League team, which was unheard of. Because eight year olds didn’t make the twelve year old team. So I made it, and that was a big thing in town. You know, the first eight year-old to ever be on the twelve year old club. In those days they didn’t have junior teams either. You either made the Major League club or you didn’t play. Now they’ve got an age group for everybody, no matter how bad you are. So my brother started to take over then because, as I wrote in “A Nice Tuesday,” when the coach called out the first position, “Pitcher,” I just raised my hand because I was so excited. I didn’t know what the hell a pitcher was. When I told my brother that I had signed up to be a pitcher, he started taking over. He taught me what he knew. So he had a big impact on my life. You know what it was like? My father was like the consigliore; he always had words of wisdom for me that were terrific. But the hands-on coaching came from my brother?

BB: Did you ever play baseball more for your brother’s approval than for your own satisfaction?

PJ: Well, I had them simultaneously. I loved pitching. Pitching is what I was made for. I loved it and I was really good at it. And the fact that I got approval from my family for the first time helped; up ‘til then I was just a pain-in-the-ass that my mother and father wanted to drop off at the park. Their favorite thing was when I went up to my room to draw, or when I went to the movies on the Saturday afternoon matinee. Or when I went up to the park all day and played ball and stayed out of their hair. I was a late child. My mother was like 36. They took care of me. But they didn’t really have a hell of a lot of interest. I started to become a Little League star at the age of ten. And I started to get some recognition and approval from them. I pitched for my brother’s approval because I always admired his judgment, but he was always close to me before I could play ball. He was my favorite when I was five years old and wasn’t a pitcher. He was my idol.

BB: Your relationship wasn’t predicated on your success as an athlete.

PJ: No. My brother was my idol for as long as I can remember. The fact that I started to do something that pleased him, helped. It added to the relationship. But it wasn’t the only thing. After all these years, we still talk. He calls me up the other day because his dog was sick. And he considers me the Dog Guru. He’s pushing eighty now, but he calls me up and I’m still the kid. But he relies on my judgment when it comes to the dogs. We have a much closer relationship than we ever did. But it’s funny, because when I was playing ball I used to go to his Law office every day. We’d go out to lunch and talk about my workouts, my pitching. The next game I was going to pitch, you know? And when I came back from baseball and I went back to his office for lunch again, one day he said to me, “You know I can’t do this everyday. I’ve got a business to run.” There was really nothing else to talk about. My baseball was over. I think my baseball career was more important to my brother in our relationship than it was to me.

BB: What was he getting out of it?

PJ: Oh, a transferential living through my success. My success was always predicated on what he taught me. In other words, it was never just my success; it was that he taught me to be a pitcher. Naturally when I went away [to the minors], he wasn’t there and everything fell apart, it was further proof that without him, I couldn’t cut it. Which is a convoluted thing. It’s true, but not for the reason you’d think. I was so dependent on him, that I had trouble existing away from him. But my pitching was fine. Mentally I got messed up without him as a security blanket.

BB: Behind every successful player is a driven parent, or coaching figure, right? You’ve met so many ballplayers. How many of them do you think are trying to live out their parent’s dreams, or their older brother’s fantasies?

PJ: As far a Bonds goes, I don’t know. I’ve heard that Bobby was tough to get along with as a player. But that wasn’t uncommon for black guys in that era. If they stuck up for themselves they were ‘Hard to get along with,’ know what I mean?

BB: Like Dick Allen.

PJ: Who is a terrific guy. I met him once. He’s the only guy who agreed to do a story with me and I said, “No, I don’t want to bother you.” This is when he was caught smoking pot. He used to smoke pot and I went to talk to him. He had read some of my pieces and I said, “You want to do a story?” And he said, “Oh, man. They’re trying to bury me,” he said. “But I respect your work. All right, if you want to do it.” But I just looked down and said, “Aww, forget it. Forget it, Dick. This is one story; I don’t want to bother you. Just don’t tell anybody I cancelled out. Tell ‘em you didn’t do it.” This was when I was with Sports Illustrated. It’s the only story I’ve ever got that when I got to see the subject I said, “No, I don’t want to do it.” I felt he was too tortured. And I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. I don’t know about Bonds. My friend Doug didn’t have a dad to play catch with. I didn’t do it for the approval. I did it for the ego. MY approval. I love my brother, and I loved my father, but I didn’t do it for them. I know this to be true with most ballplayers. To be a good ballplayer you have to do an egomaniac. I knew a kid who lived down the street from me whose father would take him to the park every day and hit him grounders and the kid couldn’t do jack shit. And he tried to do it for his father and only made the Little League as a scrub. By the time he was in high school, he quit. There was a kid who was doing it for his father. But he had no talent. Guys who make it, don’t make it cause they are doing it for their father. I really believe that. I would think that if you scratch most great ballplayers like Clemens—another egomaniac. He told me a couple of years ago about his ailing mother, “I just hope she lives long enough to see me win my 300th game.” I was dumbfounded. Oh, you just want your mother to stick around so she can see you win your 300th game? Jesus Christ. But that’s the kind of attitude it takes. And I’m sure he wasn’t winning ball games for his mother.

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