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Fred Claire's Book
2004-03-02 08:59
by Jon Weisman

Dodger manager Joe Morgan?

It might have been, Doug Krikorian of the Press-Telegram points out in his notes about Fred Claire: 30 Years in Dodger Blue, the new book by the former Dodger general manager (written with Steve Springer of the Times).

I hope to have my own copy of the book to read and review soon. In the meantime, Kirkorian writes:

Apparently, (Tommy) Lasorda after the 1983 season was seriously entertaining an offer from George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees, and informed Claire, (Al) Campanis and (Peter) O'Malley that he wasn't going to sign a new contract.

The Dodgers immediately began looking for a new manager, and Claire recommended Joe Morgan, who was 40 and had just completed a season playing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

But moments after O'Malley had reached Philadelphia president Bill Giles to seek permission to speak with Morgan, Lasorda called O'Malley and said he had changed his mind and would re-up with the Dodgers.

And so it was that the world came this close to losing Morgan as a sometimes thoughtful, sometimes mypoic commentator (not to mention chief mocker of Moneyball).

One thing I've noticed about Claire over the years is that he has taken the criticism, which usually telescopes to the Pedro Martinez-Delino DeShields trade, with class. He offers explanations - Jody Reed's bizarre contract refusal, the approval of the trade by Lasorda and Dodger scout Ralph Avila, but he recognizes that the responsibility for making the trade still rested with him.

It struck me this morning that Claire is something like the Dodgers' Jimmy Carter, a leader whose mistakes were more immediately apparent, and certainly real, and whose virtues only materialized in the public eye after his tenure?

(P.S. Buy the book through this link, and I'll get a pittance, they tell me.)

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