Philadelphia Inquirer - March 12, 1980

At the Maddox clearance sale, Phils avoid hard sell

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of Paul Owens' special, one-time-only, Garry Maddox clearance sale. But it turned out that the Pope was not exactly hawking his wares like some guy trying to sell aluminum siding on UHF television.

 

The way Owens talked Monday, you would have figured he'd open a concession stand yesterday on the causeway to Tampa, yelling, "Hey, get your centerfielders here." But instead, he was wandering around Carpenter Complex as usual, slapping relief pitchers on the back, leaning on the batting cage and saying the normal stuff, like, "Hey there, big fella."

 

If Owens really was desperate to unload his Gold Glove centerfielder, the only people he could have unloaded him to at the complex yesterday were 59 women from the Oak Manor Retirement Villas. And about all he could have gotten in return were two Instamatics, a pair of sunglasses and $13.78 in loose change.

 

Fact is, though, Owens is not all that desperate. And besides, he said he hadn't gotten a single call about Maddox yesterday morning, despite extensive advertising.

 

But maybe that isn't so surprising. It isn't easy to trade a guy on the last year of a contract these days, especially when it's reportedly going to take close to a million bucks a year to keep him from heading over that free-agentry rainbow.

 

"It would have to be a pretty affluent club," Owens said, "a club that wouldn't be afraid to spend money.

 

"But then you can look at it another way, too. It could be some club that didn't feel it could sign him and might just take him on a one-year basis."

 

Owens talked about the possibilities without much enthusiasm. In the past, he listened to trade discussions involving Maddox only when the names on the other end were Winfield or Sutter or some similar future immortal.

 

Now, he conceded, "I may not be able to demand as much as I would under normal conditions." What offers he is likely to get could be confined largely to players on other teams who also are a year away from free agentry.

 

One of those players is Cincinnati's Ken Griffey. Reds president Dick Wagner said yesterday that he already had contacted the Phillies about a Griffey-for-Maddox exchange. But Owens said he hadn't talked to Cincinnati about Griffey.

 

"Their situation with him is probably similar to ours with Garry," Owens said. "To my knowledge, they're not too close, either.

 

"I don't know the figures (Griffey is asking), but it seems like it would be six of one, a half-dozen of the other.... If I'm going to have a guy for a year, I might be better off having Garry for a year."

 

Despite all Owens' talk, it's likely that Maddox will remain a Phillie in 1980. The trade threat may have made great headlines, but it probably was simply 1) a negotiating ploy and 2) a device to see what kind of offers Maddox might produce.

 

For such a deal to really be worth the Phillies' while, it would have to produce practically a Winfield. Owens has often said that on Astro-Turf, a centerfielder of Maddox' range and defensive skills is a necessity.

 

"I can't think of anybody who is any better in center field than Garry Maddox," Owens said. "It would certainly change our ball club defensively to lose him and offensively, too. He'll steal you 25 or 30 bases, and he's a good hitter for average."

 

The Phillies and Maddox are "really far apart" on money, Owens said, and they'd have to be for Owens to consider a future that didn't include Maddox in the middle. Owens' present nominee for Maddox' replacement would be Bake McBride.

 

"Bake was a centerfielder with the Cardinals when he was rookie of the year," Owens said. "He played center right up till we got him, I think, at least three or four years. He's a better centerfielder than a lot of guys in this league, I'll tell you right now."

 

 

Greg Gross also has played center. And Lonnie Smith was an every-day centerfielder in the minors. But none of those guys gobbles up what would be doubles or triples the way Maddox does virtually every night of the week.

Greedy?  Not Garry Maddox

 

By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A friend of mine saw the story in the morning paper, the one about Garry Maddox and the Phillies reaching an impasse on their contract negotiations and the possibility that he'd be traded as a result. My friend's reaction was predictable. "What do those guys want?" he said.

 

By "those guys" he meant, of course, baseball players who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The public – or at least a large segment of the public – has trouble relating to those boxcar figures, and even more trouble sympathizing with athletes who aren't satisfied with what they're getting.

 

Chances are, in Philadelphia today and around the country, there are lots of people saying, "What do these guys want?" – lots of baseball fans telling their friends that Garry Maddox is being selfish and greedy.

 

Well, if that's what they're saying or thinking, they're wrong.

 

Many not as talented

 

Nobody made baseball owners hand out those absurd, long-term, guaranteed contracts. But they're handing them out, and some of the recipients are a lot less talented than Garry Maddox. He's 30 now; he doesn't have that many peak earning years left. If there are owners willing to pay him considerably more than the Phillies are willing to pay him – and that seems to be the case – why shouldn't he do what's best for himself and his family? Why shouldn't he think in terms of putting his talents on the free-agent market at the end of this season?

 

Above all, why shouldn't he do all in his power to help the people nearest and dearest to him?

 

The fact is, Garry Maddox is one of the least selfish, one of the most family-oriented, community-minded athletes I know. When most athletes, most public figures, do TV commercials or make personal appearances, they pocket the money. When Maddox works in the off-season, the money goes to charity. No fanfare. No fuss. But it goes there, just the same.

 

Why a hard bargain?

 

OK, you say, then why is he driving such a hard bargain? Why he is willing to risk becoming an ex-Phillie when it's so clear that he enjoys playing in Philadelphia?

 

"I said in the beginning that I was playing the game for the money, to help my family," Maddox said. "I never tried to hide that from anybody in baseball."

 

From day one in the game, Maddox found out what a cutthroat business it was. The pendulum has swung a long way since he signed with the San Francisco Giants more than a decade ago. If the players have the hammer now, the owners had it then, and they used it – especially on kids like young Garry Maddox. Check out Maddox' career and you begin to understand why there was a need for a strong Players Association in baseball.

 

He was a second-round draft choice out of high school. His family had no money, no idea of what being a high draft choice meant in terms of dollars and cents.

 

Didn’t know the score

 

"Here you are," Maddox said, "you know nothing about contract negotiations or free-agent drafts or anything.... My father said, 'Maybe we'll be able to get a car or something like that.' 'Yeah,' I said, 'Maybe we will.' He said 'maybe,' I said 'maybe.' Neither one of us had any idea. So when the cat came with $1,000, it was just like, 'Well, we were wrong.'"

 

He got a $1,000 bonus for signing a $S00-a-month contract. There are colleges that pay more than that under the table. But this pro team had played him for a sucker.

 

"I came down to spring training and I found guys that were maybe 10th-round draft choices and got more than I did," Maddox said. "That was my initiation into it. When you're trying to make ends meet, when you never had anything, when you've been on welfare all your life, then to find out something like that, it's bad."

 

So bad that he quit. Only later, after a tour of duty in Vietnam, did he give baseball another try in an effort to help his parents make ends meet.

 

It says a lot for Garry Maddox that he has come as far as he has, and that he continues to help his family the way he does. Also, Maddox is quick to point out, it says a lot for baseball that a kid who got shortchanged a dozen years ago is now in a position to get security for himself and his family through the game.

 

"I've developed a love for baseball, Maddox said. "I enjoy playing it. Getting out of San Francisco into a different environment really helped me to appreciate the game.”

 

The Phillies and Philadelphia provided the environment he was looking for. That s why it won't be easy for him to leave the Phillies – if in fact, he does get traded this season or signs with another club as a free agent next season. But he has thought it through, and he is prepared to face it.

 

"When Pete (Rose) signed his contract, I didn't tell them they had to renegotiate my contract," Maddox said. "I didn't say anything. But now I have my chance to go out and get the security I need. I want the whole thing to be handled in a first-class manner, where there's no ripping. I don't want the Phillies ripping me. I won't say anything negative about them. I can finish the season out, play as hard as I can for them...."

 

He can if they'll let him. By not signing a new contract – his current five-year pact runs out this season – Maddox has opened the door for a possible trade, a fact the Phillies emphasized when the talks stalled. But if they expect to challenge for a pennant this year, they can hardly give up a player of his ability without getting a lot in return. There is still a good chance that Garry Maddox will play center field in Philadelphia this year.

 

"I want to finish out the season here," he said, "so I put in my mind that that's the way it's going to be."

 

On the other hand, he has to be strong enough to handle the day-by-day uncertainty.

 

"I could pick up the phone any time it rings and find out I've been traded," he said Monday night in his apartment on the beach, where the phone was ringing every few minutes. "I can be traded at any minute, or they can keep me. I don't know what's going to happen. I've just got to take it a day at a time. I had to stop and say: 'Hey, what can Garry Maddox handle? What would be best for me?'"

 

And this was his decision, even if the thought of a trade seems distasteful right now.

 

"I remember when Willie Montanez got traded (in the 1975 deal that brought Maddox to Philadelphia)," he said. "I remember he wrote a telegram to the team the day it happened. Some people told me how upset he was, and I know how upset they (the Phillie players) were. But it changed. And it (the emotions) will change if I get traded."

 

He hopes, though, that one thing won't change, that the warm feeling the people of Philadelphia have for Garry Maddox will last despite the current, highly publicized contract impasse.

 

 

"I think people have had a chance to learn a little bit about me since I've been in Philadelphia, and I just have to rely on the impression I made on them." It's an impression that should be strong enough to endure. There may be some greedy, selfish men playing big league baseball these days, but Garry Maddox is not one of them.

Sports in brief (excerpt)

 

Compiled by The Inquirer Staff

 

Baseball

 

 

Three spring training games will precede a program of 70 televised Phillies games this year on Channel 17. The preseason games will be against the Yankees on March 29 and the Pirates on March 30 and April 6. Regular-season telecasts will start April 13. Phils games also will be telecast by Channel 8 in Lancaster, Channel 15 in Lebanon and Channel 16 in Wilkes-Barre.