Philadelphia Inquirer - May 13, 1980

Rookies fearful of strike

 

Have more to lose than top-pay vets

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

ATLANTA – They are the guys who don't do the Seven-Up commercials. They've got no stocks. They've got no bonds.

 

There's no real estate on the Sun Coast they could sell, no couple hundred grand in the bank they could live off.

 

They are the youngest baseball players. And if there's a strike, 10 days down the road, they are the guys who will feel it most.

 

"I don't have any investments," Phillies rookie Keith Moreland said. "This is the way I make my living. I've got a wife and a family. If there's a strike, I've got to go find something I can do to support them."

 

Keith Moreland is not rich. He's not hauling in a whole lot more money each week than the average accountant or even the average sportswriter. And if there's a strike, he will be hauling in an income of zero.

 

So maybe he won't be losing the $3,000 a day in a strike that Pete Rose will. But if that strike goes on a while, it still will hurt him worse than it will hurt Rose. You're not going to see Pete Rose selling shoes in The Gallery come August, strike or no strike.

 

Have to go to work

 

"This is what I want to do, play baseball," said Moreland, who has a wife and 2-year-old daughter. "I haven't thought about anything else. I have no qualms about going out, because I believe it's for our own good. But other guys who've got some money put back will probably make it. I'll have to go to work.

 

"What would I do? I'm not sure. I've done everything from drive a truck to picking up trash to working in sales. I guess this would be the same thing as if I was out of baseball. Then I'd probably get into land patrol and management (buying property for oil companies). That's a big profession out where I come from (Texas)."

 

Keith Moreland isn't the only guy who has to worry about this. Kevin Saucier, who has a wife and a daughter and also has a house and car to pay off, says he probably will go work in a warehouse.

 

"I might even be able to umpire some Softball games at night," Saucier said. "A couple games a night, that's 20 bucks there. Not too bad."

 

Dickie Noles says he will try to wait a strike out as long as he can. But as long as he can is probably only a couple of weeks.

 

If it looks then as if the strike will be a long one, he will go home to California and find a job as a logger. On the whole, he'd rather be pitching to George Foster.

 

Lose the house?

 

"Logging's the only other thing I know 1 can do," said Noles, who is single. "But if I didn't have to do that, I wouldn't. If I had to, I would."

 

Lonnie Smith put a down payment on a new house a month before spring training. That house has to be paid for, whether there is a baseball season or not.

 

"My wife's worried we're going to lose the house," Smith said. "I've got no idea what I'd do. The only job I've ever had outside of baseball was as an ice-house attendant. I did that three years when 1 was in high school. No way I'd do that again. Doesn't pay enough."

 

Smith said he has tried to find temporary jobs before. And a lot of incredulous employers have reacted, "You can't be a ballplayer. What does a ballplayer need a job for?"

 

"I even tried showing them my baseball card," Smith said. "Sometimes that isn't even proof enough."

 

Then consider the strange case of Ramon Aviles. Here is a guy actually hoping he will be back in the minors 10 days from now. If he's not, he gets caught in a strike he never even voted for.

 

"I don't need a strike," said Aviles, who was called up last month when Manny Trillo got hurt and now has stuck around while Luis Aguayo's thigh muscle mends. "If I'm in the minor leagues, I'm OK. I'd be playing, so I'd get paid.

 

"If I'm in the major leagues and we strike, no way I can afford that. I mean, if I'm here I'd do it. I'd back them up. I can't let my teammates down. I'd just have to go pump gas, I guess. Or go to a grocery store and pack groceries."

 

In the long run, baseball's young guys know a strike benefits them more than it benefits a Pete Rose. They are the free agents of the future. They will be the people covered by any future basic agreements.

 

"Basically," Keith Moreland said, "this is all for us."

 

But will they remember to repeat that to themselves a month from now when they are out there packing groceries?

 

 

There might not seem to be much reason for optimism about averting a strike these days. But Bob Boone says he hasn't given up.

 

"I think there's going to be movement. I just don't think there's going to be much until the last minute," said Boone, the National League player representative.

 

"That's why you institute deadlines. People keep asking, 'Would you consider postponing it?' But you can't do it, because not all the cards have been played. And you're not going to get all the cards played until you get close to the deadline.

 

"It's frustrating for a player like myself. You want to say, 'Let's get to it. Why couldn't we do that in February?' But it doesn't work that way."

 

 

NOTES: Dallas Green has been considering dropping Randy Lerch (0-4) from his rotation but probably will start him tomorrow. "Herm (Starrette) had a couple good talks with him," Green said. "We just want him to know we're on his side. But at the same time we can't wait forever for him to pitch well."... Pete Rose's three stolen bases in one inning Sunday made him the first National Leaguer to do that since the Dodgers' Harvey Hendrick in 1928.