Philadelphia Inquirer - November 30, 1980
Investigating Ted Turner’s deals gives Kuhn wide room to wander
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn has launched an investigation to determine if Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner tampered with Dave Winfield during a recent visit, but maybe he should have determined if the impetuous Turner is guilty of violating the rules in signing outfielder Claudell Washington to a ridiculous five-year, $3.5-million contract.
It is believed that Washington, 26, would have signed with the Mets before the season ended if the Mets had agreed to give the well-traveled player a fifth year at $350,000. When it appeared that Washington wouldn't budge, the Mets not only agreed to five years but upped their offer to $450,000. That was turned down, and Washington and his agent didn't even entertain offers from any team other than the Braves after the re-entry draft.
How Turner decided that Washington was worth money like that is a mystery. Washington hasn't hit as high as.285 in the last five seasons, and hasn't hit more than 13 homers in any season. His only big year was 1975, when he hit.308, batted in 77 runs and stole 40 bases, all career highs, for the A's.
Washington's agent, Tom Baenziger, has said, "They (the Braves) were only one player away from winning the pennant last season, and now they've got that one player – Claudell."
About the time Turner, whose Braves need pitching more than outfielders who hit less than.280, was signing Washington, he was calling 14-game winner Doyle Alexander's. demand for $350,000 a year "outrageous." Said Turner, "We'll trade him, no sweat."
NOTES: When Pete Rose said George Brett wouldn't hit.390 in the National League, some thought that it was sour grapes. But American League expansion does have its effect. Brett had 20 hits in 11 games and batted.444 while knocking in 18 runs against the Blue Jays. In 13 games against the Blue Jays, the Orioles' Eddie Murray batted in 38 runs.... Incidentally, it's difficult to believe, but Brett recently denied that he has a five-year contract extension that will pay him $1 million a year. "The only new contract I have is with 7-Up," he said. "The last baseball contract I signed was four years ago. I categorically deny that I've signed any kind of new contract with Kansas City."... Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton, looking fit and rested after his annual hunting trip, spent last weekend in Clearwater, Fla., with his wife Beverly. "It's a combination vacation and business trip," Carlton told me. He and Mike Schmidt are part owners of an auto agency in Clearwater, which is where the Phillies train.... If you wonder why the Cubs are sinking, listen to their general manager, Bob Kennedy: "I'll sign people to contracts longer than one year, but I'm not going to guarantee anyone's pay for more than a year." It's no wonder so many Cubs ask to be traded.... The Angels may do a Johnny Bench with their top catcher of 1979, Brian Downing, and move him to the outfield. However, that move is dictated by Downing's arm problems.
The answer to last week's Trivia Question: Jim Bagby and Jim Bagby Jr. won 226 major league games, the most of any father and son pitching duo. Bagby Sr., who pitched for the Reds (1912), Indians (1916-1922) and Pirates (1923), won 129 games. Bagby Jr., who pitched for the Red Sox (1938-1940, 1946), Indians (1941-1945) and Pirates (1947), won 97. First with the correct answer was Ken Buckwater of Paoli.
This week's question: Who is the only major league baseball player to win the Heisman Trophy as a college football star?