Philadelphia Inquirer - April 18, 1980

First aide Wine waits for his shot

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

MONTREAL – All of history's leaders have had their aides-de-camp.

 

Nixon had his Ehrlichman. Carson had his McMahon.

 

And Dallas Green has his Robert Paul Wine, a.k.a.Wino.

 

Wine is the brains behind Dallas Green. Sometimes, he also is the brains to the right of Dallas Green. It all depends on where they're standing.

 

Father way, you know Wine has to be important, because he doesn't coach first base and he doesn't coach third base.

 

He doesn't warm up pitchers in the bullpen. He doesn't even march out to the mound after a Phillies reliever has thrown a grand slam or something.

 

All he does, once the game starts, is stand in the dugout next to Green. He whispers intricate strategic stuff in Green's ear. Then Green nods his head yes or nods his head no.

 

Whatever he nods, he wll get the credit or get the blame. Bobby Wine will get neither. This is the good part – or the bad part – of being an aide-de-camp, depending on how you look at it.

 

It actually is quite remarkable that either Green or Wine ever got this far. Here you have a manager who won 20 games as a pitcher in eight seasons. And the brains behind him is a coach who hit .215 in 11 seasons as a shortstop.

 

"Actually," Wine said, "I got as many hits as Pete Rose. It's just, a lot of them didn't count."

 

They didn't count because they were all ground balls and pop-ups to infielders who couldn't figure out a way to miss them.

 

Wine was the classic '60s Phillie. What he did (field and throw), he did great. What he couldn't do – swing at a baseball without bailing out dramatically – he was never, ever going to do.

 

But somehow Bobby Wine turned out all right. Maybe that's because he spent a lot of time in the dugout in his career. That, of course, was because it was the only place you could sit when you weren't on base, which Wine hardly ever was.

 

He learned a lot from Gene Mauch, under whom he played in every one of his 11 big-league seasons. He also learned from Danny Ozark, under whom he coached from 1973 until last Aug. 31.

 

But Wine wasn't really the aide-decamp under Ozark. It's only this year that the manager really asks him a lot or really listens.

 

"Danny basically ran the game himself," Wine said, a revelation that often was pretty obvious. "He might ask me about who we could use to (pinch) hit or about a defensive change or something like that. And I'd give him suggestions. But the game itself, Danny ran.

 

"With Dallas I'm more involved. I understand he hasn't been on the field. He doesn't know a lot of the teams yet.... So we talk about the game as it happens. We talk about situations.

 

"I'd say most of the time, unless he's got a firm idea of what he wants to do with a hitter, I'll handle most of the situations in the game. I'll explain what I think we should do, why, and if he has another idea we discuss it."

 

Besides strategy, Wine also is in charge of stealing signs. This was another thing he learned from hanging around dugouts.

 

"Mauch and Peanuts Lowrey (Mauch 's aide-de-camp) were always looking for some kind of edge," Wine said. "When I got to Montreal I didn't play very much at first, so I used to try it. It gave me something to do, something to look for. It keeps you in the game. A lot of guys on our bench do it now."

 

Two years ago, Wine said, he stole the Chicago Cubs' signs. And when they didn't change them for an entire series, he wound up coming off like Jeanne Dixon.

 

"We pitched out every time they tried to steal or hit-and-run the whole series," Wine said. "And we got the guy every time. They must have been wondering what was going on."

 

Not everything Wine does is that cerebral. He also throws batting practice. Lots and lots and lots of batting practice. A half-hour a day, every day. And a half-hour or so of extra batting practice many other days.

 

A Phillies scout once said that Wine was the best batting-practice pitcher in baseball. At any rale, the ball seems to carry better when he is pitching against the Phillies lineup than when, say, Joe Niekro is pitching.

 

Wine also is the coach in charge of hitting ground balls during infield practice. He is particularly good at this. All he has to do is do what he did his whole career.

 

“Nah, I hit them a, lot harder in infield practice than I did when I was playing," Wine said.

 

As glorious a life as being an aide-de-camp is, Wine doesn't want to do it forever. He was seriously mentioned last fall as a Phillies managerial candidate. And he would like to be a serious candidate in the future.

 

"I'd love to do it," he said. "Hopefully, before I get out of baseball I'll be a manager somewhere, some day. I feel like I'm well-prepared for it. I've worked at it. I'd just like to get the chance."

 

And what else would any aide-decamp want but the chance – the chance to have an an aide-de-camp of his own?

 

 

NOTES: Pete Rose takes a .143 average (3-for-21) into this weekend's series in Montreal. "I don't worry about my hitting when we're winning," Rose said. "I wouldn't care if I hit .175 all summer if we kept winning."  Uh-huh.