Atlantic City Press - March 19, 1980

C’mon Carlton, You Are Allowed to Talk With Sports Writers


By Ralph Bernstein, Commentary


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – This baseball reporter has one nightmare. He wakes up shaking because he s just dreamed that Steve Carlton pitched a one-hitter and George Hendrick got the only hit. 


For the uninitiated, Carlton and Hendrick are members of a minority of athletes who refuse to talk with the media. It’s a vexing problem, one that ought to be solved by the league presidents or Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. 


The individual clubs claim they can't make a player talk with reporters. Frankly, it's a cop out by baseball. 


When you pay players in the millions of dollars you have the right to expect them to promote your business. It should be a part of every athlete's contract. 


After all what, you're dealing with is not a reporter’s right to know, but fan interest. The people who buy the tickets want to read what their heroes have to say about themselves and their approach to the game, or their problems. 


Whether the Steve Carltons or George Hendricks, or others in the silent minority realize it or not, they're public figures. They owe what they have to the fans who pay their inflated salaries.


True, some reporters constantly are seeking controversy. Some go too far into the personal lives of the athletes. The athlete has the same right of privacy away from his business as we do. But he knows who they are, and can be careful in their presence. 


A reporter, however, does have the right of fair criticism under the laws handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's a way of life in a democracy. 


It’s been three or four years since Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies granted an interview, although he’ll go on post game radio or television shows controlled by the club. Why does he refuse to speak with reporters covering the team? 


This reporter swallowed his pride in the best interest of his job and tried to talk to Carlton in spring training recently. I reasoned that some effort should be made to get some thoughts about the 1980 season from possibly the  most consistent pitching winner in major league baseball. 


I walked to Carlton’s locker and said, "Steve my tape recorder is off, my note book is closed, my pen is in my pocket, this is not an interview. Would you give me a minute to see if we can't break down the barrier between you and the media?” 


The response was, “policy is policy." And he turned his back on me. I was burning inside. But I retained my professionalism. I said, "thanks" and walked away. What good could come of a loud confrontation and some words later regretted?


Before I approached Carlton, I advised Phillies’ Manager Dallas Green of my intentions, and he was delighted that 1 was willing to try. Obviously, deferring to my 35 years of experience, Green said, “it's worth a try, but if the reaction is negative, back off." 


It wasn’t only negative. It was downright rude. I’d say ignorant, but I know Carlton is no dummy. I respect him as a pitcher. I pity nun as a human being.  He ignores the suggestions of his manager that he be a leader of the club, and try and handle the media.  He says something about having been burned a few times by writers.


So what? Haven’t all of us been burned at one time or another in our lives? Do we dig a hole and pull the dirt over us shut out the world? Carlton wants to be a private man in a public life, which is hogwash. 


Carlton can talk. He recently called a news conference to promote an auto agency in which he has an interest. 


Breathe easy, Steve. To reverse a worn out phrase, I won't call you, you call me.

Phillies Held Runless, While Expos Score Two


Montreal 2, Philadelphia 0


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Ken Macha drilled a run-scoring single and Tommy Hutton accounted for the second run of the eighth inning with a bases-loaded walk Tuesday as the Montreal Expos defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 in exhibition baseball action. 


Catcher Roberto Ramos led off the bottom of the eighth against loser Ron Reed with a bad hop single off shortstop Bud Harrelson’s glove and was sacrificed to second by Rowland Office. 


Randy Bass was issued an intentional walk before Tony Bernazard loaded the bases with a single. Macha then delivered a line drive single over shortstop to score Ramos, with Bass thrown out at the plate. 


A walk to Danny Briggs loaded the bases again, and Hutton worked Reed for a walk to drive in an insurance run. 


Hal Dues, who spent last season in the minors after elbow surgery, was the winner, pitching the final two innings. Scott Sanderson threw the first four innings for the Expos and Jamie Easterly pitched the next three. Reed was the last of four Phillies’ hurlers.