Monday I CALL THE photographic studio to see if the negative I'm having made from Edward Bennett Williams' high school yearbook picture is one of his contemporaries sent me is ready yet. The picture will be reproduced in the book I'm writing about Williams. The negative is ready, and I pick it up. They've done a pretty good job. Afterward I make two of my most frequent stops: the copy place and the library.
After lunch, I call Jack Kent Cooke, owner of 86 percent of the Redskins. He agrees to talk for five or 10 minutes. We wind up doing an hour and a half interview, interrupted two or three times when he has to attend to other calls, then calls me back. His reputation is that of one of the most dynamic and fascinating people around. At the end of our conversation, he invites me to come up to Redskin Park Friday to meet and visit with him.
I've been doing research on a book on Edward Bennett Williams for a year. Along the way I've interviewed a dozen or so people connected with the Redskins and Orioles. But this seems to be sports week. I call the Orioles' public relations department to make sure everything is set for my visit Tuesday to Memorial Stadium to interview people involved with the team. It is.
Then I call Jerry Hoffberger, who sold the Orioles to Williams a year and a half ago. I have been trying to arrange an interview with Hoffberger while I am in Baltimore tomorrow. His secretary says he is not going to be able to see me then, but he will talk to me in person or by phone some other time. I touch bases with my agent at William Morris in New York. Some copies of one of my earlier books he had sent me were lost in the mail, and his is going to send more.
After dinner, Jerry Hoffberger calls me from Baltimore. I can hear the Orioles game on the radio in the background. Naturally, I want to talk to him about his sale of the club to Williams. He says he has never discussed the sale with the press and never will. We talk for a few minutes about Democratic politics, in which both Williams and Hoffberger have been involved, before ending an interview that is not very fruitful. Cross another one off the list. At least his interview won't take long to transcribe. Tuesday
I have an appointment at 11 a.m. with Robert Strauss, who was chairman of the Democratic National Committee when Williams was treasurer. I'm due at Memorial Stadium at 4, so after lunch and a little reading I'm on my way. When I get off I-95 in Baltimore I have my choice of several routes. My wife is from Baltimore and I decide to take Charles Street to see if it is still as charming as it was 15 years ago when I was dating her. It's not; even Charles Street is practically a slum now. But I am impresed with how well the route from the freeway is marked. The stadium, of course, is most inaccessible for people from Washington. City officials can't do anything about that, but they seem to be doing everything else they can to satisfy Williams.
The employes at the stadium are also very helpful. The parking lot attendant takes my pass, which is good only for today. As I'm getting out of the car he comes up to me, tells me he noticed that I had written directions to the stadium on the back of the pass and asks me if I need it back so I can use the directions going home. I thank him, tell him no, and, again, am most impressed.
I meet the people in the public relations office and they take me in to my first interview, with general manager Hank Peters. He has an excellent reputation as a baseball executive and seems every bit as capable as I had been led to believe.
Then I go out on the field, where I interview Doug DeCinces. He is the American League player representative, and is much more articulate than I had expected a ballplayer to be. The public relations people had said that I could talk to any of the players around the batting cage while they were waiting to hit, but none of the ones I want to talk to are there.
After hanging around on the field for a while, I go sit in the dugout to wait for the players to return to the locker room, where I will interview them. Earl Weaver, the manager, is sitting in the dugout, holding forth for the benefit of several reporters. I sit there minding my own business, but after a while I notice with horror that Weaver is constantly spitting tobacco juice on the dugout steps in front of him. The beautiful briefcase my wife gave me for Christmas is also on the steps.
Practice ends and everyone drifts into the locker room. The players I want to talk to are most helpful, especially Jim Palmer, the veteran pitcher and more recent Jockey short man and television personality. He asks me to sit down on the chair in front of his locker and he sits down in the bottom of his locker, which can't be comfortable. After I finish interviewing him he graciously goes to find one of the other players I want to talk to. Quite a guy.
My poor briefcase! Now I've left it next to the soft drink machine and it's getting splashed with pop. I retrieve it. Next time I'll bring my things in a paper bag.
I'm going to be sitting with Williams in his skybox. I love to munch during a ballgame, but he has already provided me with my ticket and parking pass, and I don't want to take advantage. Even though I'm not hungry, I eat a hot dog and have a soda at one of the concession stands, hoping this snack will curb my appetite during the game.
My good intentions last into the second inning. I declined the first offer of food from the usherette in Williams' box, but then the hamburgers and french fries ordered by the other two people in the box are delivered. I can't stand the smell. Well, I tried. By the end of the game my line score shows one hamburger, one order of fries, one hot dog and two Cokes, not counting what I had eaten just before the game.
The Orioles score three runs in the first two innings, then withstand a ninth-inning rally and escape with a 3-2 win. Williams is excited during the game, ecstatic when his team wins. Some people say he'd rather see one of his teams win a game than see one of his clients win a case. I can believe it. Wednesday
I'm not looking forward to today, I'm going to have to spend a large part of it dealing with Montgomery County government. In the year and a half since I returned from California, I have observed that the only thing they do well in Montgomery County is collect money.
A lot of people said that Jimmy Carter was incompetent, and I would be the last to dispute that. But what does that make the people who run Montgomery County? I don't think the word has been invented yet. Perhaps my first exposure to a county employe was what soured me. Last year our house was burglarized. The first policeman who arrived found that his flashlight wasn't working and had to borrow mine.
My first stop is the county building in Rockville, where I want to look up some old wills. A whole bunch of names seems to be missing and I can't find one that I'm looking for. I inquire at the front desk and am informed that the names are listed in phonetical order, not alphabetical order. Unbelievable! Imagine if the telephone book were organized that way. You'd have to look under F for Phelan, just for starters.
Then on to parking court in Silver Spring. I got a ticket at the Metro parking lot, even though I put enough money in the meter for all day. The ticket is only $5, but it's the principle of the thing. Besides, this way I can put my law degree to use.
The judge dismisses my case as I had known for months would happen, because the meter maid who gave me the ticket had left the force. What a waste of time.
Returning home, I took out my frustrations by mowing the lawn. The rest of the day and in the evening I read through material I gathered on my recent research trip to New York. Thursday
Today, I will be downtown all day. I have four interviews. The first, with a lawyer who used to be in Williams' office, is one of the best of the 75 or so I've had. It lasts for almost two hours, making me late for my next appointment.
Just as well. The second appointment is also with a lawyer who used to be in practice with Williams. This fellow informs me he doesn't want to talk about his former associate. Too bad he didn't tell me that on the phone when I called for an appointment.
After lunch with a friend who's also a writer, during which we kick around ideas, I interview another lawyer who has known Williams since the two of them were growing up in Hartford. After anohter interview with an old friend of Williams -- this one is not an attorney -- I head for the barn, tired, but having accomplished a lot today. Friday
This is my day for Redskin Park and Jack Kent Cooke. And it makes all the hard work seem worthwhile, I have such a fantastic time. Jack Kent Cooke is every bit as charming in person as he had been on the phone. He spends a couple of hours telling me and one of the team executives stories about George Preston Marshall, the founder of the club; football; his years in Las Vegas, and his early days in Canada.
I enjoy myself so much with Cooke that I in effect stand up National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle, with whom I had scheduled a telephone interview for this afernoon after weeks of trying. I talk to his secretary and reschedule it for next week. Then I have to tear myself away from Cooke and rush home, where we are having company. Oh, well, you only go around once.