Three Rivers Stadium was almost totally quiet today except for the two furiously clapping hands of Ted Turner.
The Atlanta Braves' owner stomped, hollered and jumped up and down in his box seat like a tickled 10-year-old as his decimated ballclub broke its 17-game losing streak with 6-1 triumph over Pittsburgh.
Turner, who installed himself as Braves manager for 10 days just the night before, was banished from that post temporarily today by National League president Chub Feeney.
But it's didn't crimp Turner's sytle at all to switch from No. 27 to an open-necked shirt and reflector sunglasses an hour before the game - just so long as his Braves could snap their numbing slump and break the Pirates' 11-game winning streak to boot.
"I'd like to be down there to take some of the credit for this," chuckled the 38-year-old self-made millionaire as he watched unheralded Max Leon, a starter by necessity, pitch three-hit ball for seven innings and drive in three runs. "But I'm just relieved we can fly back to Atlanta tonight with one win to our names."
The Braves, still playing without five injured stars, celebrated afterward with champagne (courtesy of slugger Jeff Burroungs) and loud, loud music.
"We've been snake-bitten and depressed," said Burroughs, who has somehow kept hitting (.315) throughout the carnage. "But mostly we've just gotten our brains clobbered day after day. It's been pretty humiliating.
"After a while, it's like being in the twilight zone. It isn't a big joke to us."
While the Braves players rejoiced, Turner called Feeney long distance to ask for an explanation of why he could not manage the team he owns.
"If I'm smart enough to save $11 million to buy this team, I ought to be smart enough to manage it," grumbled Turner as he dialed.
"Hey, gimme the chief, please," said Turner to Feeney's perplexed secretary. "Tell him it's the little Indian from Atlanta.
"They say it's against some rule for a person to manage or play for a team that he owns stock in, unless he gets special permission from the commissioner," explained Turner to a room full of eavesdropping reporters. "They musta put that rule in yesterday.
"Hey, Cuberoomboom," roared Turner when Feeney came on the line. "How's about let's ask the commissioner, the old super chief, for approval for me to manage this team of mine.
"Sure I want to do it. It's my team. The worst that can happen is I lost some games and I'm ready losin' plenty of them.
"No, I don't want to fight, Chub. Askin' ain't fightin'. I just want you to ask the big chief. You're my league executive. It's your job . . . No, I've only had one beer. I'm drinking Rolling Rock Premium,= said Turner can in hand.
Feeney finally convinced Turner to think over his request and call back in 45 minutes. "He pleaded with me in a nice way to consider," grinned Turner, like a son who has his father over a barrel.
Exactly 45 minutes later. Turner was dialling agin. "Poor Chub," soliloquized the man who has made his millions in advertising (billboards in the South) and TV-radio stations. "I think he really likes me, but the other owner give him so much grief about me that he can't show it."
"Yeah, year, Chub. I still want you to ask the super chief. No, I'm being a good boy. No more lawsuits. I'm sick of courts. I just want to get along with all the big chiefs.
"Thank You, Chub, call me tomorrow."
Thus Turner ended his day in triumph. "I want to manage even more now, 'cause they don't want me to," said Turner, as narchic and creative as a child. "What's the difference between the box seats and the bench - 20 feet? They take it all so seriously . . . decisions, decisions. Do any of the other owners ever smile? This is just like a big Little League team to me.
"They want to know what my salary is as a coach/manager. I told 'em, minus $2 million." That's what I've lost on this team."
Despite the Braves's long streak, despite well-liked manager Dave Bristol being sent home to Andrews, N.C., for 10 days while Turner "finds out what's going on,? the Atlanta players and coaches stand behind their owner.
The Braves know Turner can't explain the infield fly rule and that he has no idea what their signals are, but as pitcher Andy messersmith says, "Half our depression throughout this is that we're letting Ted down.
"He's the best owner in baseball, and the other owners are trying to blackball him out of the game. They're sticking it to him every way they can.They're just lovin' this nose dive we're in 'cause they can say, 'See, you can't have fun playing baseball, you can't be loose, you can't be interested in the fans and the players before the profits.
"That's what burns me up. Here he's spent $11 million, built up attendance (53 per cent last year) with a last-place team and we go and lost 17 straight on him.
"What does he do today? Comes in here and sys, 'Stay with it. Keep your heads up."
"Ted may be off-the-wall (eccentric)," said Messersmith, who got a free-agent contract with Turner when no other owner would offer one, "but he's genuine. His world is good. Brother, in this game, that's unique."