Chapter 38 The Dreamers
Jack, Jon, and I arrived at the ballpark early. Red was in his office cleaning out his desk. Gus was in helping him. Two cardboard boxes were on top of the desk and one thirty gallon trash can was to the left. The boxes were mostly empty. Red decided to consolidate and take only one to New York.
"Boys, come on in for a moment," yelled Red. The players entered Red's office.
"Ya, skip, what's up," said Jon? "Hey, Gus," he added with a warm tap on the shoulder.
"George sent a small commuter jet to pick us up," announced Red. "It’s sitting out at Mackie Airport. Decided he wants us at the press conference for 10AM. He is sending up four drivers to take our cars down to New York. He has even taken care of getting each of us an apartment up-town so we don't have to worry about setting up house-keeping. A driver is waiting outside for us. We’ve got about five minutes. Any problems?"
"No, guess not," I said. "You want our car keys now. I left my personal stuff in my car. That O.K.?"
"Ya, I don’t see why not," said Red. "Why don't you do that."
Everyone dropped their car keys on Red's desk. Gus picked them up and told them he would take care of it.
We players went into the locker room and picked up our equipment and headed out to the limo waiting for them. I stopped and came back into Red's office.
"Red, could I have a minute with Gus," I ask?
"No problem," said Red. "I'm done in here anyway." He turned and took the box with his saved belongings and left.
Gus was fumbling with what was left on the desk and what was left was garbage. Gus was nervous.
"Gus," I said, "I just wanted to say thanks for everything. You and Mary have been great to me. You opened up your home to some stranger. You cared for me like I was your...well, one of your family. You and Mary will always be special to me. Gus, I just wanted to say...I love you and Mary and will miss you."
I walked over and gave Gus a big hug. Gus turned and embraced me hard. The tears were streaming down Gus' face.
"Hey, listen, get out of here, kid," said Gus," not really meaning it. He tapped me on the cheek.
I walked toward the door. I turned to look at Gus once more.
"Hey, Mr. Monarch," said Gus to me, smiling. "Don't be a stranger."
"Don't worry," I replied, smiling. "I won't. Take care...Dad."
I left and boarded the limo with my teammates. The new adventure was about to begin.
We arrived in New York just after 9AM where a limo whisked us to the stadium. Jorge Canasta was waiting for them at the gate to usher us up stairs to the press area. It was flooded with reporters and cameras.
We assembled in an outer office adjacent to the press area. As soon as we entered we were spotted by Mr. “S” and he greeted us warmly.
"Red, introduce me will you," asked George?
"George, this is Bill Alan, Jack Meyers, and Jon Tavy," said Red. George shook each of our hands after we were announced.
"Boys, it nice to have you here," said George. "I know I seem to do some wacky thing once in a while. Some even think I own the Bellevue Monarchs, but, believe me I love this team and just want to bring this town a championship more than anything."
George went on to describe how the press conference was set up. He was going to make the announcement of the changes and introduce Red as the new manager. Nothing was in any of the morning papers so this was going to be quite a shock. Red would then introduce the new players from Madison and then we would all have to field a few question as a matter of protocol.
"You gentlemen ready," asked George? "Then it's Showtime!"
George led the way into the Media Room. The camera flashes immediately began going off. He went up to the podium which seems to have hundreds of microphones glued and scotch taped all over the place.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the press," began George, "I called this press conference to announce some immediate changes to the New York Monarchs. After consulting with Dan Mann, our General Manager, we both agreed that this team was not responding and failing to live up to its' potential. Our Manager has agreed and will immediately take over managing the double-A Madison, CT. ball club. Mr. Red Dodge, standing to my left, will immediately take field control of the New York Monarchs," George continued.
"In addition, Red has brought along with him his three most talented prospects who will take over starting assignments immediately. To my far right is First Baseman Jon Tavy. Next to him is Pitcher Jack Meyers, and to his right is Pitcher/Third Baseman Bill Alan. Mr. Alan will be starting this afternoons contest. The announcement of those current Monarchs who will be released will be announced prior to game time. They have not been told as of this moment, but the decisions have been made who they are. We will be glad to answer any questions you may have," he concluded.
"George, isn't this just some stunt to deflect attention away from the Monarch’s poor performance, and aren't you making scape-goats out of these players you are about to release," said a voice from the back of the room? It was Jack Milton of the Times.
"No, Jack," stated George sarcastically. "This is not just for your benefit, to give you something more to write about. The team stinks right now, but we are only eleven games out. If the Orioles fade at all and we start playing like we are capable of we could end up, at the very least, respectable. The fact that we have brought up two fine pitching prospects, I believe our main weakness, should indicate that we at least understand our problems and our needs. Next question."
"Mr. Dodge," asked a reporter from the Post," do you have any immediate plans shake up the line-up today?"
Red moved to the podium. He removed his new Monarch hat.
My immediate line up will include Tavy at First and hit clean-up with Alan pitching and batting ninth today. When Bill is not pitching he will play Third and bat third." announced Red.
"You're kidding, right," responded the reporter?
"Son, you might as well learn right now that I don't kid about much of anything," snapped Red with an intense look on his face. "Mr. Alan has an eleven and one record and is batting .360 with nineteen homers and 68 RBI’s. Mr. Tavy has twenty-six and is tied for our league lead in RBI's with 81. Mr. Meyers, not to be forgotten, is eight and two. I believe after looking at tens of hours of Monarch game tape that these players are as good as anybody currently in a Monarch uniform. Now, some of the players here might not like me saying that, but it is up to THEM to show me otherwise. These three, new players will have to play themselves out of the line up, just like some current Monarch have already done. All George and I ask is you give them a chance before you begin crucifying them."
Red stepped back from the stage. The media was kind of taken back by Red's matter-of-factness. It was obvious that there would be a different presence in the Monarch dugout from now on.
"Mr. Alan," asked the woman reporter from WFAN Radio, "How do you feel about pitching your first game in the Stadium?"
I moved up to the podium. I kept my cap on.
"It was to be my regular turn in Madison, anyway," I said calmly. "It would be nice to know the hitters better, obviously, but it's really not a big deal. The secret of pitching is not making mistakes and getting behind in the count. I'll take my cues from Mike March, our catcher, and work on keeping my composure and control. My job is to put my best pitch where he wants it. If I do that my success will continue. Dave Bolton, our catcher in Madison, was doing a great job preparing both me and Jack. We still had to do our job with good pitches. It will be no different here."
"Mr. Meyers," asked the same reporter," is that how you feel?"
"There's not much to add to that," said Jack as he moved onto the podium. "Neither of us is 100 MPH over-powering, but Billy is certainly very close. He is going to surprise many hitters up here. We pitch to spots and stay out of the middle of the plate. There is pitching and throwing. If you are a thrower you can only rely on luck and the hitter weakness. You really don't have much control over your team’s destiny if you do that."
Jack stepped back to his original spot. He winked at Red, who smiled back.
A couple more softball-type questions were lobbed up and were easily handled. The press did their best to find out who the released Monarchs were. A lot of speculation centered around Biff Johnson the current First Sacker, a couple of pitchers with losing records and big salaries. George would not budge with any hints and told them to be around prior to game time.