Philadelphia Inquirer - December 21, 1980

Mauch bides time, waiting for offer he can’t refuse


By Allen Lewis, On Baseball


Gene Mauch never kidded himself that he'd be able to be happy playing golf seven days a week. The former Phillies manager, who quit as skipper of the Twins late last season, is merely waiting for the right offer to come back into baseball. In the meantime, he's living in his fairway condominium on the ninth hole of the Sunrise Country Club at Rancho Mirage, Calif., and staying in shape chasing the little white ball.


"I just don't want a job where I'm going through the motions," he said. "I want to feel I have a chance to win. I want my players to feel they have a chance."


So far, Mauch says, he has turned down three managerial offers, two of which also included being a general manager. He also admits the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, who blew a 6½-game lead with 12 games left, still haunts him, that he has kept a list of the mistakes he made then, determined they won't happen again.


If something doesn't develop by March, you have to feel apathy for Mauch's lovely wife, Nina Lee. Not being in spring training for the first time in 36 years might just make living with Gene akin to sharing an abode with a hungry saber-tooth tiger.



How quickly things can change in baseball is demonstrated by what has happened to lefthander Randy Lerch and righthander Jim Wright. Just four years ago, those two Phillies-owned players were regarded as two of the best young pitchers in the game, headed for almost certain stardom.


Now, Lerch is looked upon as a big question mark, a pitcher who, although physically sound, may never be more than a journeyman. And Wright, who suffered two major arm injuries, was removed from the Phillies 40-man roster before the recent major league meetings. Left unprotected, Wright was taken by the Royals in the draft for $25,000. In July 1977, before his first arm problem, you couldn't have bought him for 10 times that much. Both will be only 26 when the 1981 season begins and, despite their difficulties, have to be rated "worth taking a gamble on."


NOTES: Expos catcher Gary Carter, a fine receiver who knocked in 101 runs, is a Pete Rose-type hustler and who finished second in the 1980 Most Valuable Player balloting, has to be the game's most underpaid player. He has two years left on a five-year contract that pays him $200,000 a year, and is seeking an extension at a much higher figure. The only regular National League catchers who make less are Bruce Benedict of the Braves and Ed Ott and Steve Nocosia, who split the job with the Pirates. Alan Ashby, Milt May and Biff Pocoroba are among those making more.... It would seem that a world championship team would have a most attractive home Grapefruit League schedule, but the Phillies will not only play more road (13) than home (12) games in spring training, but have none at home with the Royals, Astros, Dodgers or Yankees, all of whom have been opponents in past springs.... Reds pitcher Tom Seaver said he came up with a new pitch last season – the wish pitch. "I was wishing they'd hit it at someone," he explained.... Todd Demeter – whose father, Don, once hit over.300 and knocked in more than 100 runs for the Phillies and was then traded in the deal that brought pitcher Jim Bunning from the Tigers – played for Greensboro, N.C., in the Class A Western Carolinas League last season after signing for a $200,000 bonus from the Yankees. He's a power-hitting first baseman.



Answer to last week's Trivia Question – which stumped everyone: The last team to use eight different pitchers in 40 or more games in one season was the Chicago Cubs in 1974. The eight pitchers were Oscar Zamora (55 games), Ken Frailing (55), Dave LaRoche (49), Burt Hooton (48), Bill Bonham (44), Jim Todd (43), Rick Reuschel (41) and Ray Burris (40).



Trivia Question of the Week: Name the last major league team whose pitchers led the league three years in a row in shutouts.