Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Remember when: Heaven Help Marge Schott

One of the best things did was open their vast history to us online, via their Vault section. I got totally sucked into sifting through the old baseball articles. I'll share a few over the next few days or weeks, depending if you guys like 'em or not. Just let me know.

This one about Marge Schott, back in 1996, was just awesome in its depth and insider view of one of the most hated, loathed, misunderstood, and feared owners in MLB history. It's a very long read (9 pages using their "print this" button) but it's fascinating. I could give a hundred samples but here are a mere few:

Marge sees [Chris] Sabo. "Hi, honey."
"Hi, Mrs. Schott."
"Tell Schottzie you're going to win for her tonight."
Sabo looks around uncomfortably, then mutters at the ground, "Uh, we're going to win for you tonight...Schottzie."
In the sixth inning Schott moves down to her box seats behind the Reds' dugout to chain-sign autographs, hardly looking up except after loud cracks of the bat. She hates it when the bats break, but she does not lose money on them. She has an employee take them to the gift shop at a downtown Cincinnati hotel and sell them. (To show their undying love for her, some Cincinnati players smash their cracked bats into two pieces so they're in no condition to be sold.)
Marge Vision is set on the 1950s, and she sees it clear as a bell. She often feels like speaking out for what she believes, and it hasn't hurt her much. While Al Campanis , Jimmy the Greek and Ben Wright lost their jobs for saying one fiftieth of what Schott
has said, she got only a one-year suspension from baseball in 1993 for making racial and ethnic slurs. A sensitivity-training course was thrown in for good measure. The course didn't really take. Sending Schott to sensitivity training is like sending a pickpocket to a Rolex convention.
At the start of the [1996] season the Reds weren't providing fans with scores from other games on the Riverfront scoreboard. "Why do they care about one game when they're watching another?" argued Schott , who had stopped paying her bill for the service (it costs $350 a month) during last season.

Following the sixth home game, after being raked over the coals by the media for her stinginess, she reversed her scoreboard decision and blamed it on her employees, saying in front of a roomful of reporters, "I've got to have the worst public relations staff in America!" Now those employees have to track the scores by calling to other ballparks and listening to the radio.
Even though Cincinnati won the 1990 World Series and was the NL Central champion last year, anybody in baseball will tell you privately that the Reds are leaking oil three lanes wide. They routinely lose their best scouts to better-paying clubs. Attendance is down for the second straight year. In the playoffs last year there were more than 12,000 unsold seats for one game at Riverfront and more than 8,000 for another. For some reason, aside from Bowden , who is considered one of the best young executives in the game, top-notch baseball minds aren't inclined to come to work in an office chilled to 55 [degrees] for substantially less than what other teams are paying, bringing their own tissues to the office and wondering who else is listening to their phone messages.

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