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The Importance of Being Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person

A play in one act

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

[Lights come up on the office of Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. Hahn is seated behind a large desk, which has several stacks of paper on it. Three chairs are in a semicircle facing the desk. Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person enters, obviously upset.]

HOFBP

This is an outrage.

HAHN

Excuse me?

HOFBP

Don’t play the innocent with me. You know the rules. You don’t call me, I call you. When and if I feel like it.

HAHN

You’re forgetting the papal audience clause in the agreement. Did my messenger properly kneel and then kiss your Hall of Fame ring before she begged you to come with her?

HOFBP

Well, yes. But you’d never used that clause before. I though it was only for emergencies, like fire or a tornado or Queen Elizabeth pleading for a chance to get an autograph.

HAHN

Well, this is sort of an emergency. Please have a seat, Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person.

HOFBP

(sits, angrily)

This better be quick. You interrupted one of my favorite episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly, the one about the income tax return.

HAHN

This can be very brief. (picks up several sheets of paper) If you’ll just sign these, you can get back to your show.

HOFBP

I didn’t bring my bifocals. What is this?

HAHN

It’s your resignation.

HOFBP

Resignation? From what?

HAHN

As manager of the White Sox.

HOFBP

(smirks)

You’re kidding. Why would I resign? I’ve got a job for life … either my life or Jerry Reinsdorf’s. Or both.

HAHN

I tried to cover multiple reasons. This one (holds up paper) says “to spend more time with my family” …

HOFBP

As if.

HAHN

(holds up another paper)

This one says “in order to help my animal friends more”

HOFBP

Ha! Let the ungrateful beasts rot!

HAHN

(reaches for another paper)

This is my favorite “in order to concentrate on writing my memoirs”

HOFBP

(snorts)

I already wrote my memoirs … One Last Strike … pretty damned terrific.

HAHN

But that was before you became Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person. Think of all the new things you’ll have to add … being inducted into the Hall, working in the front offices of the Diamondbacks and Angels and ruining both teams, driving so under the influence you pass out or ram into a sidewalk, getting a big laugh out of how you were hired by the White Sox … the list goes on, and since they’ll be your memories and no one can blame your memory for being a little hazy at this point in life, you can twist things any way you want. Heck, you can even make today all your idea. I promise not to contradict you.

HOFBP

Be hard to top the first one.

HAHN

Well, I just checked, and One Last Strike is No. 2,649,433 on the Amazon bestseller list.

HOFBP

So?

HAHN

So Tommy Lasorda’s autobiography, The Artful Dodger, is No. 969,216. You’re getting your butt kicked.

HOFBP

So?

HAHN

So since he’s dead, if you overtake him with a new book, he can’t come back at you.

HOFBP

(pauses for thought)

No, no no! You forget I’m a lawyer. I know you’re just trying to get me to resign so you don’t have to pay the rest of the millions in my contract. Not going to happen. (gets up) Forget it. I’m going back to listen to my show and work on remembering the names of the players on the roster.

HAHN

We considered that, and are offering to let you keep all the money.

HOFBP

(longer pause)

Still no.

HAHN

Then you’re fired.

HOFBP

You can’t do that. Jerry says so.

HAHN

You know how you like to lord it over players by saying they’ve just got a locker and you’ve got an office?

HOFBP

It’s true.

HAHN

Well, you’ve just got an office and I’ve got most of a big building.

HOFBP

Jerry! It’s happening! The worms are rising up!

HAHN

It’s fire you, or finally recover my manhood and resign. Either way, I’m out of a job, and this way I get to recover some little bit of self-respect. You’ve done terrible damage to a team I worked years to try to build into something good, and I can’t take it any more.

HOFBP

Oh … it’s that stupid chanting about the intentional walk, isn’t it?

HAHN

Nope. It’s everything, from abusing the starting pitching staff last year so they had nothing left in the tank at playoff time, to lineups, to pitching moves, to just being an unmitigated, arrogant jerk.

HOFBP

I’m taking this up the ladder.

(Ken Williams enters)

WILLIAMS

Rick … Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person.

HOFBP

Who are you?

WILLIAMS

I’m the executive vice-president of the White Sox.

HOFBP

Really? That’s a job?

WILLIAMS

It is, and I support Rick all the way.

HOFBP

Then you’ll be out of whatever that job is supposed to be.

WILLIAMS

Probably, but I’m 58 and a millionaire many times over, and you’ve made early retirement look really good. I suggest the resigning to work on your memoirs option, but, if you prefer, you’re fired, and good riddance.

HOFBP

Jerry! Jerry!

(a huge aura fills the room, with a giant head in the middle … think the appearance of The Wizard of Oz)

REINSDORF

(deep, threatening voice)

Who calls the mighty Wizard of White Sox?

WILLIAMS

Oh, cut it out, Mr. Reinsdorf, your eminence, sir. It was Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person.

REINSDORF

(steps out from the aura, revealing he’s just a small, wizened old man, like the actual Wizard … nods to each)

Ken … Rick … Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person. This better be good. I was just listening to one of my favorite episodes of The Shadow.

HOFBP

They’re saying if I don’t resign, they’ll fire me. Tell them they can’t do that.

REINSDORF

You can’t do that. I’m still alive. I think. (pinches himself) Yep.

WILLIAMS

Then we’ll resign.

REINSDORF

What’s your job, anyway?

WILLIAMS

I’m your executive vice-president.

REINSDORF

Don’t see why we need one of those.

HAHN

And I’m the general manager.

REINSDORF

May need one of those, I guess. Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person, you have front office experience ruining the Diamondbacks and Angels, don’t you?

HOFBP

Certainly.

REINSDORF

Then you can add general manager to your titles. I’ve been letting you run things, anyway. No increase in pay, though.

WILLIAMS

It’s not just us. The entire front office has agreed to quit as well, along with the ticket sellers and the parking lot attendants …

REINSDORF

Who needs ’em?

WILLIAMS

And the beer vendors who sell those $10.75 beers that line your pockets …

REINSDORF

Oh, maybe we should rethink this. (long pause, thinking) No, I can’t let it happen. I’d be admitting I made a mistake, with is something neither I nor the Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person ever do, which is why we’re friends.

HAHN

Oh, for Christ’s sa- … how about this? Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person remains the manager, but he’s banned from the dugout, the clubhouse, the field, the broadcast booths, the press conferences, speaking to any reporters or communicating with the team in any way. We hire an acting assistant manager to do he actual job, someone capable of handling it. You and he save face, we save the team. Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person can enjoy a long, stress-free vacation.

REINSDORF

You want me to pay someone else, too?

HAHN and WILLIAMS

(resignedly)

Take it out of our pay.

REINSDORF

Well, in that case, I don’t see a problem.

HOFBP

I still don’t like it. Except … if the team becomes good, can I take credit? And if it still stinks, can I blame that acting assistant guy?

HAHN

Why not?

HOFBP

You’ve got a deal. Let’s drink to it.

Curtain