There were a lot of things they could have said in the obituaries of Fred Haney, who died the day after Bucky Harris.
For example, a score of good men, some of them Hall-of-Farmers, have managed major league teams more than 100 defeats in a season - hallowed Connie Mack yo times alone. But only Fred Haney managed it with two differenty teams.
Only Haney managed to get his buddy, (I love) Lucy's husband, into the clubhouse before the media the night his Milwaukee Braves clinched the pennant. When you've managed a team called the Hollywood Stars, it comes especially.
But alas! Some wire-service reporter in California grooved on the fact that Henry was hanged in effigy his 1957 Braves took a 20-4 whipping from the Dodgers, then slipped his noose to win the pennant and World Series, such is the epitaph: sic transit 79 summer.
The presumable effigy in Milwaukee, Haney was working in Broklyn that night, meeting the Dodgers in cozy Ebbets Field, which was somewhat like rumbling with Rocky Marciano in a phone. It was such a chamber of horrors for lefthanders that even Warren Spahn, 200-game winner before that '57 season began didn't pitch in Brooklyn, and never understood didn't in Brooklyn, and never understood why.
"When I was young and threw the fast ball," Spahn said, "and the Dodgers were young nad full of vinegar, I used to pitch against them and sometimes I used to win. Now that they're old, and I've learned how to get righthanders out, I never see them."
Haney's pitcher to open Dodger series was Bob Buhl, a rightmaker whose fast balll sank. Buhl was excused that infamous night after his 39th sinking fast ball of the first inning, with Brooklyn ahead, 5-0.
Haney's closing pitcher, as long as the people had paid to see a ninth inning, was Taylor Phillips, a 23-year-old lefthander who did not, in Haney's opinion, act a day over 12. Nineteen-fifty-seven was the year the term "flaky" came into baseball currency, and Phillips helped it considerably. Clearly he had ability but, as Casey Stengel had said of another erratic young prospect. "You got to play in a cage."
So in the ninning in Ebbets Field was manager Haney's woodshed for his aberrant pitcher. I would hurt Haney more than it hurt Phillips, of course, but it would make a man of the boy. It did neither. It was a horrible inning.
The Hodges-Furrilo-Campanella gang batted around a couple of times and there was nobody - nobody - in the bullpen. Phillips sweated and fretted around the mound until the Dodgers had 10 more runs. Spear-carrier Bob Kennedy, .121, pich-hit for Duke Snider, only because Snider was naked in the shower when his turn came up the second time. It was a long, long inning.
The folks back in Milcwaukee didn't dig it, but Taylor Phillips was the effigy that night, in person. He pitched very little the rest of the year and was gone as soon as a manor trade could be arranged.
The world champion Braves of 1957 were up-tighter, in their way, then the Yankees of 1977. They had choked and kicked the pennant to the Dodgers on the last day of the previous year and they heard footsteps, even with an 8 1/2 game lead.
The Braves worked that lead down to 2 1/2 on a Sunday in September, losing to the Phillips on a squeeze bunt by Chico Fernandez. The press was kept waiting outside the clubhouse door for almost an hour. It was opened by Haney himself.
"Here are your pallbearers, gentklemen," the manager said with a courtly bow and a sweep of his right arm. "Don't you want to meet your pallbearers?"
A few players laughed. One of thwm was Taylor Phillips.