IF BASEBALL, will give Washington no Opening Day, then let us declare one for ourselves.
Once, Opening Day lived here. It was Washington's World Series, the capital city's bonus Christmas.
For one afternoon a year, Washingtonians (with Cincinnatians) were sole citizens of the baseball state, while the rest of America waited to be franchised.
The presidential inaugural was the dawn of the year's better half-a cherry blossom declaration of independence from winter, a springtime bill of baseball rites.
It was a holiday too rich to do without, so let's not. If we cannot have a fresh first pitch, then let us relive the last one.
Turn back the clock eight years to April 5, 1971-the date of the last real Opener. All since have been ersatz.
Look at that strange extinct species-the Washington Senator box score. The names-Frank Howard, Mike Epstein, Dick Bosman, Paul Casanova-still have an eerie freshness, since no other names have pushed them from the hearts.
Instead of an Opening Day of pomp, let us have one of candor. It is impossible to slander the dead, so let us exhume the Nats and let them tell us who they really were, now that they feel free-released by time or retirement-to tell larger pieces of the truth.
What was that Opening Day, and that last Senator team, truly like? And what have the eight years since-an eternity as baseball measures time-brought the former Nats?
The nine players in that starting lineup have scattered like a supernova explosion. Among them, they seem to have covered the gamut of baseball and life experiences.
"All of us bear the marks of the lash," said Epstein.
The two Nats most opposite in character-Curt Flood, the brooding Othello of his sport, and Paul Casanova, the game's ebullient man-child-have both gone through bankruptcy, deep bitterness and expatriation.
Flood has emerged scarred and wary-a living witness to what happens to rebels. His Supreme Court lawsuit opened the Flood gates of free-agency, but he has tasted not one dollar of it.
Casanova runs a disco in Caracas, Venezuela, and still shows American visitors the scar on his elbow, saying, "My throwing arm is better now. I can still play."
Yet another Nat-Joe Foy-has survived both alcohol and drugs. Now, his once-formidable baseball talent wasted, he finally lives the straight life-attending college and counseling wayward children in the South Bronx.
On the other hand, two Nats quit baseball on their own terms, hanging up their spikes before the game could can them-Tim Cullen and Epstein. Both have become far greater success stories in the business world than they ever were in baseball.
"I couldn't be making more money if I were Jim Rice," said Epstein. "After baseball, business has been a reprieve."
Both then and now, the most closely observed actor in the cast is Frank Howard, the 6-foot-7 first base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers.
"A lot of guys from that old Senator team are watching Frank real closely to see when he gets a managing job," said Bosman, who now runs an automobile leasing agency outside Milwaukee that is owned by Brewer management.
"They may see him as a ticket back to the majors as a coach," said Bosman. "I'm not one of them.
"When you shut the door on baseball, you have to keep it closed or it will never let you go. You just gotta go with the cards left in your hand even if you're not crazy about them. You look at 'em. You play 'em."
That is the long, hard lesson that almost every man from that Opening Day lineup must face continually with each passing year.
No Senator remembers that last Washington Opener with half the clarity of the leadoff man - Toby Harrah. It was his first major league game.
"I can remember the entire lineup," said Harrah, and he does, rattling off Nos. 1 through 9 in order.
Harrah's debut came on one of those perfect days for a rare Senator triumph, an 8-0 shutout of the Oakland A's, who would go on to win 101 games. It was a day when everything worked out properly. The sun shone, the stadium was full, Richard Nixon couldn't make it.
"I got a hit off Vida Blue and scored the first run of the season. You know to this day, I still wear out Vida Blue," said Harrah, now going bald but still beaming at the memory. "That was some thrill for a kid who still carried Mickey Mantle's picture around in his wallet.
"I couldn't believe I was playing shortstop for that team. You know, I'd made 52 errors at Burlington the year before . . . threw everything hard as I could. No one expected me to make the team," said Harrah.
"I looked around me and there was Denny McLain who had won 31 games and Frank Howard who could hit a ball farther than any man alive and the manager, Mr. (Ted) Williams. Jeez, it still gives me a kick.
"Washington was such a beautiful city in the spring. It's still my favorite town. I had so many relatives come visit me that summer that I could have passed for a guide. I took 'em all to the museums and art galleries and to that big graveyard across the river. You know, I'd go out there to watch the changing of the guard."
Harrah, from rural LaRue, Ohio, may have been the all-time appealing green rookie. "He was just a wide-eyed country kid . . . lost at the plate," recalled Bosman. "Every time he threw to first, it was an adventure. You wondered if it would go 18 rows up in the seats or hit you on the pitcher's mound."
To Harrah, that adventure was pure joy. "What a great team to break in on . . . it's the most fun I ever had on any club. We really communicated. I remember that before our first road trip to New York, Tim Cullen came up to me and taught me how to tie a necktie. I didn't know."
Harrah learned everything as quickly and compulsively as he did the double knot. Each year, he improved dramatically until, by the end of '77, he was generally considered the best offensive shortstop in baseball.
"I hit 27 dingers (homers), drew 109 walks, drove in 95 runs . . . sure I was the best in the game," said Harrah, just talking facts."People didn't have much choice but to say it was me. The numbers said so."
Then came the crash. Last year, he and his wife, whom he married two weeks after that '71 Opener, were divorced. "Knowing how Toby takes everything to heart," said Bosman, "I assume that explains his bad year (.229)."
Harrah, who moved to third base last season, has since been traded to the losing Cleveland Indians.
"I pity Toby," said Bosman, a former Indian. "That town will beat you down. It's a tough place to get yourself back together like he has to. God, what a hideous ballpark . . . The Dungeon, we called it . . . The Mistake by the Lake."
"I'll make it," said Harrah. "I've learned that you can never stop believing in yourself in this game . . . because you're the only one that does."
For Curt Flood, nothing is more painful than thinking back to April 1971. It is like asking the survivor of a shipwreck to recount his weeks adrift in a lifeboat.
"Pressure," he said softly, "pressure and tension . . . that's what I remember. It was tough.
"I had been out of the game for over a year because of my lawsuit against baseball and the reserve clause. That spring was a big year for me, the first chance I'd had to play.
"I knew all along that those few weeks were the time that was going to decide whatever was ggoing to happen to me right down to this moment, actually," said Flood this week.
Flood, dressed all in black that spring, was a solitary Hamlet-like figure-one slender, rusty center fielder standing against a century of baseball tradition. Not one other player in baseball took his side.
Like a leper, he was not vilified, simply avoided.
Flood only returned to baseball from Denmark because owner Robert Short's contract offer of $110,000-half of it in advance-offered some hope of keeping his head above water financially.
But, two weeks after that Opening Day, Flood had given up hope. His court case had suffered another defeat and would have to be appealed to the Supreme Court-more expense. His wife was seeking support for their five children-an expense he could no longer meet. And his batting average had sunk below .200. His spirits were far lower.
Flood fled to Madrid, later tended bar for more than a year on the island of Majorca.
"After I went back to Europe, I had plenty of time over the years' to think about whether I gave up on my come-back too soon," Flood says now. "I'm sure I was right. Those young kids were running all over me."
Today, Flood looks older than his 41 years. He is frequently on the defensive, as though questioners were trying to catch him in some innocent mistake to make him look a fool.
Last season, he returned to the baseball scene as a radio color announcer for the Oakland A's-a bizarre connection since owner Charlie Finley is the No. 1 victim of the free-agent system that Flood helped create.
"You seldom see a man's basic character change, especially a strong character like Flood, a genuinely thoughtful rebel," said Epstein. "But when you see Curt Flood today you see a man who has been tied to the mast and has taken one lash too many."
That is as close to a candid comment on Flood as anyone on the baseball scene is likely to make. His continued financial precariousness, in an age of free-agent millionaires, is a bitter irony that cuts several ways.
Asked about his current job status, Flood said, "That depends on Charlie Finley. I'm waiting for hime to call." One the eve of the season, it is not positive the A's will even have a radio network.
Despite all his suffering for his convictions. Flood at least has the solaceof seeing that this idea of justice triumphed-although he speaks very softly on that subject, too.
"I believe that free agents have helped the game," he said. "It was the only equitable thing, that everyone get a fair share.
"Someplace along the line in baseball history, the people on the field, the actual entertainers, had to be included in the picture on a fair basis.
"I don't blame the owners for trying to keep a lock on their game. Maybe I would have too, in their position.
"It took baseball a long time to realize who the people were who were the source of the profits."
"When I think of the old Nats, I'll always think of Hondo," said Bosman. "He was that team.
"I don't remember him leading the league in homers and FBI (44 and 126 in '70). I remember some darn foul ball landing in the upper deck and there's Frank Howard running into the left-field railing chasing after it.
"Some people laughed at that kind of hustle. Well, that's just the way the man lived and played. Put him on my team every dan . . . give me the guy that dies with every defeat.
"When you looked at Hondo, you said to yourself, 'Take a lesson.'"
No figure, not even that of Williams, was as dominant on those Senator teams as the Washington Monument.
"We were all castoffs, all of us scrapping," recalled second baseman Cullen. "It was Frank who set the tone. He's the reason we were always a hustling, close-knit team . . . even when we were lousy, we played the game right."
"We always had a few guys on those Washington teams that weren't playing with a full deck . . . especially that last team, after all the crazy trades," says Howard now. "And, brother, I was one of 'em."
If the Nats played hard on and off the field, the Gentle Giant was the prime mover.
"I had to cook for that son-of-a-gun," said roommate Bosman. "We'd have four guys at the table for a noon breakfast and Hondo'd say, 'Bozzie, why don't ya throw on about 18 eggs and six or eight steaks?'"
When Bosman serve the Bunyanesque breakfast, Howard would insist, "Now you guys take all you want . . . hey, take some more now . . . Okay, everybody got enough?"
Then Howard would simply take the main serving bowls and eat whatever was left-usually the biggest half.
"I'll never forget," said Bosman, "he'd always finish by saying, 'Anybody doesn't want one of them steaks, you just flop that thing over here on my plate. The big boy might have to crank out another one (home run) tonight."
Perhaps the only Nat with mixed feelings about Howard is Epstein, who played in his shadow and, some Nats say, could not help being jealous.
"I remember one of those congressional baseball games when some representative from Oregon was in the locker room talking to everybody," said Epstein.
"He'd say, 'Hello, Big Mike, how ya doing? Where's big Hondo?'
"So there's Hondo sitting in the corner smoking, and the congressman goes over and slaps him on the back and says, 'How are you doing, Big Frank? I'm Joe Blow from Oregon.'
"And Hondo turns around, kind of caught by surprise, and says, 'Glad to meet ya. I'm Frank Howard from Ohio State.'"
Epstein paused, shaking his head. "To me, that's Frank. He was always soooo concerned about being nice to people going more than halfway to make them feel good.
"But sometimes Frank was so concerned about being a nice guy that he wouldn't hear what you were saying. He'd miss the whole ohter half of the conversation.
"We had an ex-relief pitcher come by the clubhouse one day and Howard said, 'How are ya doing?'
"And they guy answers, 'Well, my wife's in the hospital.'
"But Hondo doesn't hear him. He just says, 'Good, good, glad ta hear it.'
"Then the guy goes on about how he's out of work and you're afraid he's going to jump off a bridge, and Hondo keeps right on saying, 'Good, good. Great to see you.'"
Howard, typically, even goes out of his way to praise Williams' managing, which drew few raves.
Of his own managing future, which seems almost certain, Howard said, "I'm serving my apprenticeship. Eventually, I would like to go to the top job someplace. But right now I have a lot to learn."
What about the modern player with his multiyear contract-can he play as Howard once did?
"Well, that's the one thing you do wonder about," he said. "Not the ability but the desire. Aw, I guess I better leave that to the theologians . . ."
Of course, they might be confused, too.
Once, while walking through a Boston hotel lobby, the late Nat coach Nellie Fox spotted a painting of a sad clown holding a baseball bat.
'That," said Fox, "is Mike Epstein after we have gotten our butts kicked, 15-2, but he has gone three for four."
"No truer words were ever spoken," said Bosman, remembering the incident. "There was always a lot of serious bad-mouthing of Epstein by the rest of us.
"He could never accept his role on a team. He always thought of himself as the star, even though he wasn't. He couldn't accept the fact that he had to be platooned against left-handers and had to be taken out for defense.
"There just wasn't a whole lot positive about the guy . . . you always felt that ego," continued Bosman.
"When he was traded to Texas, he said he wasn't signing until they moved in the fences. I can remember him on road trips. Everybody else slept till non. He'd be up walking the streets at 6 a.m. or reading a philosophy book.
"He was just goofed up."
As Esptein, a graduate of Berkeley, might say, "de degustibus non disputandem est ." Or, there's no disputing taste.
"I never thought of myself as a ballpayer. I would never allow myself to," said Epstein, who lives with his wife and three children in San Jose, Calif.He owns a yacht and has a hand in so many businesses-real estate, manufacturing companies, cattle ranches - that he has to slow down to list them accurately.
"There is a crossover point, a real juncture, where you stop thinking of yourself as yourself and start thinking of yourself as a ballplayer," said Epstein.
"In another field, that might be acceptable, but baseball is transient. You know it from the first day. It's too easy to become trapped by living high on the hog. I never let myself become suited to the baseball life.
"I've seen it happen to a good friend of mine-Ken Holtzman.I told him the other day, 'Kenny, you sound just like a damn scared ballplayer, worrying about how's my arm and what will I do if I can't make a come-back.'
"You can't let the game destroy your independence and self-reliance."
Epstein is such an oddity among baseball players - a slugger who was a guide on Wyoming antelope hunts in the oftseason and had a passion for flying planes-that he says, "Yes, people looked at me like something of a Martian. When I was in the minors (where he was named player of the year), I threatened to sue my (parent) team (Baltimore) for a million dollars if they didn't trade me. I guess it started then."
Despite that distance that he fought to keep, Epstein says, "It's hard to call your baseball days memories because they are so vivid.They almost cut you.
"You never get on the same interpersonal plane with people that you did in baseball. Sometimes when I meet guys I played with, I get to laughing and story-telling until the tears come to my eyes. I know I'll never get on that level with a group of people again."
For Epstein, the Washington years were bad years. "Hunters say that the only interesting guns are accurate," said Epstein. "Perhaps the only interesting teams are chapions. Most of my good memories seem to be from my two years in Oakland.
Epstein's Senator torment was his tag of "unlimited potential."
"First day in spring training with Williams, he's walking around with his entourage of 80 writers . . . you know, letting the world know that Teddy Ballgame is back . . . and I hit six batting practice pitches in a row into the palm trees.
"That's my prodig,' said Williams. 'That Epstein ought to hit 40 homers a year.'
"From then on, I always felt that nothing I did was enough. People compared me to Mickey Mantle and I knew I couldn't carry his jock.
"When I was playing, nothing was ever good eough for me. I probably tried too hard for my own good.
"Now I finally have perspective. I realize I was really a bear-down guy. How much better could I have been?
"You can't get more out of yourself than there is in you. I wish now that I could have opened up more. But it always seemed like somebody else was riding the crest of my wave. At 31, I finally said, "The hell with it.'"
That was the best move of Epstein's life.
"Business turned out to be my talent. I am own self-limiting person now. In baseball, I wasn't the controlling factor."
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Epstein says he could "retire today for the rest of my life," he still maintains that "baseball was the hardest thing I ever tried to do. Everything after it has been easy by comparison."
Oddly, the one Senator that Epstein says, "had one of the most dramatic effects on my life," was Williams.
"He didn't teach me about hitting," said Epstein. "He taught me about life. Ted showed me what it meant to totally commit yourself to excellence. Ted was like one of those toy robots that keep walking into the wall, backing up, then banging into that wall again."
Joe and Denny
Of all Bob Short's reclamation projects, all his attempts at salvaging what he called "damaged goods," Joe Foy and Denny McLain were the most extreme examples.
Both arrived in spring '71 with big question marks. Both had been sent to psychiatrists-Foy by previous clubs, McLain under orders from Commissioner Bowie Kuhn after it was revealed that he carried a gun and consorted with bookmakers and borderline underworld figures.
They were absolute contrasts in that weird Senator clubhouse-McLain the center of every controvery, Foy the loner in the corner.
"I wish Joe Foy well," said Bosman. "I hope he's alive. I never saw a guy with so many undertones of a lost soul. There was a lot of good in the guy, basically, but he traveled with such a bad crown that at first I was afraid of him.
"When he came to us, we knew he had problems. His career was obviously on the fence. You'd see the people who met him at the clubhouse door and you'd say. 'Good Lord, there can't be much good in those folks.
"Hondo and I tried to encourage hime to straighten up, but . . . I'll always remember Joe Foy as this tremendously talented guy sitting on a locker stool smoking a cigarette and looking at everybody out of the corner of his eye. And all the time the talent just dripping away for him."
Foy's slide into, first, alcoholism, then drugs was doubly painful because he left in his wake a succession of people, like Epstein, who swear, "He was really a great guy. We were both from the Bronx and we had a lot to talk about."
"Joe's problem was just that old peer-group pressure," said Elliott Maddox. "I always liked him, but there was nothing needs to be done for him. Foy, with the help of two brothers who are New York City policemen, has not only beaten his problems, but for the last two years has been counseling kids in his hometown. He is a regular at Yankee Stadium, bringing caravans of neighborhood children with him to the ballpark.
He is also a student at Lehman College in the Brox, a four-year liberal arts school.
It cannot be said that McLain's non-baseball trip has been as successful.
"You have to talk about two people - Denny on the mound and Denny off it," said Bosman. "I couldn't help but like hime, he was such a riverboat gambler. He was born to go out on that mound and set up hitters to make fools of themselves.
"McLain had more savvy and guts than a whole staff of pitchers. A guy would hit one 18 miles foul in the upper deck, and McLain would start talking to him and cussing him, and he'd strike him out on the same pitch."
McLain was also the founder of The Underminers, a fraternity complete with initiation ceremonies, that was half-seriously dedicated to undermining Williams authority.
"I met McLain years later," said Maddox, "and we both started yelling, 'Hey, come here, you Underminer.'"
That sight of the 6-foot McLain has changed considerably. "He must weigh 350 pounds," said Epstein.
McLain has tried to get his finances back in the black by promoting minor league ball clubs. His success has been mixed, his travels extensive.
No Nat is remembered as fondly by his old teammates as Casanova.
"If he's got a disco in Caracas," said Cullen, "then it's the best spot in town. Cazzie could always pick 'em."
"Cazzie was a prankster, a spender," said Maddox. "Water beds were just coming into fashion in '71, and Cazzie got a new one every week. He had one in the bedroom, one in the dining room and a mini water bed in the bathroom. He'd walk down the street and say, 'Gotta get another water bed.'
"Cazzie was always the center of the party, the center of the 'fox' hunt. Once we got on an airplane and he had a tape deck with three speakers. He put 'em all over the plane."
It surprises none of the Senators that Casanova squandered his money, once declared bankruptcy, and refused to believe that the game he loved so openhandedly had no more use for him after the Atlanta Braves gave him a pink slip.
"The game changed him, the money changed him, and the breaking balls changed him," said Bosman.
"Somewhere in South America," said Epstein, "you could find a very handsome but rather disappointed man."
That, however, is not the way those who saw him in Washington will remember him.
"Cazzie wasn't coachable as a hitter, He just didn't have the mental tools," said Bosman. "He was a wonderful physical specimen who just loved the game more than life.
"But Cazzie always had trouble with the signals. He thought one finger for a fast ball, two for a curve and three for a slider was tough. He'd call all fast balls if you let him.
"If you tried to change the signs with a man on second base-you know add or subtract by using the glove as an indication-well, you could see the smoke rising from the top of Cazzie's mask. The wood was burning."
In Venezuela, where Casanova still plays winter ball, he is as popular a figure as ever-6-foot-5 and radiant as he stands in the door of the Baseball Disco.
"He seems very happy," said one Washington magazine writer after searching him out in Caracas. "He will not let you talk about anything but baseball."
One locker was different in the '71 Senator spring-training clubhouse - the one with the "Free Angela Davis" sticker posted over it.
Elliott Maddox, now 30 and wise in the ways of the world, is still a bit startled that, at 22, on a team run by archconservative Williams, he would smack the most radical college-kid slogan imaginable over his cubicle.
"That got quite a few stares," said Maddox, a graduate of Michigan. "It was easier for the team to put its thumb on me then, keep me from saying political things, because I was young and not established."
Then he laughed. "But no one has ever totally kept me in check."
Maddox, a natural leader, some say clubhouse lawyer, was at the center not of the Senators' black contingent, but its biracial cast of rookies that included Harrah, Jeff Burroughs, Lenny Randle, Pete Broberg and Dave Nelson.
If there was a team within the team, it was the infants. "We were all babes in the woods together . . . we were so close it was amazing. Most of us still are," said Maddox, who now plays for the New York Mets.
"We discovered all the spots on the circuit together."
Maddox seemed so mature for his age that it sometimes did him harm.
"Ted took me out of the lineup that spring and put in Larry Biittner," recalled Maddox.
"I asked him, 'Why are you taking me out?'
"He said, 'I want to look at some of the young players.'
"I told him, 'Ted, I'm 22 and Biittner's 25'."
Everywhere Maddox went, he found what he saw as an ancien regime specter in the manger's office - first Williams, then Billy Martin.
"Martin seemed to follow me from team to team," said Maddox. "I'm the only guy to get traded by the same manager three times."
After a glorious year and a half as a .300-hitting center fielder for the Yankees, Maddox began a succession of knee miseries that have ruined his last four seasons.
"If there are so many good games in a player, then I haven't used any in the last four years," he said.
Now, at 30, Maddox is finally well "running free."
Yet baseball seems to have forgotten Maddox - bad knee, bad head - that's the rap.
"I have my health back at last, but now I don't have a position," said Maddox, hitting .370 in Florida but due to be pushed out of the lineup by Game No. 1.
"I'm not happy," said the bright, gifted outfielder, who seems never to have really been content.
"Just say, 'I'm available'."
Tim Cullen-the Worm-only needs to look down the block to see the precarious past that he chose to leave and the comfortable present that has turned out to be his reward.
Cullen, who quit the game at 30-going directly from the World Series to retirement-is now a successful trader of listed securities in San Francisco.
Whenever Cullen wonders what he has left behind, he looks down the street in Lafayette, Calif., at ex-Nat Del Unser.
While Cullen is deep into his second career, Unser is still holding on to his first one by his fingernails.
"Gee, I just heard that Del got signed by the Phillies," said Cullen recently. "That's great."
What wasn't so great was that the veteran Unser had to hook on in a free-agent tryout-the last perilous gasp to stay in the big leauges.
In '72, after being traded to Oakland, Cullen was sent to Des Moines. It was the beginning of the end.
"That was it," he said. "I couldn't take any more of that. Bad lights and (6-foot-8) J. R. Richard looking down at you from the mound like he was going to reach out and shake hands.
"I learned to hit in those few months in the minors. I concentrated out of terror, and it made me a better hitter."
By season's end, Cullen was playing in pennant-race games, hitting a creditable .261, and finally taking the field in a Series game. "It was like a career in one season," he said.
Cullen knew when to quit. The tiny second baseman had minted a seven-year big league career out of as little raw ore as any man. "The Worm had next to no tools," said Howard, "but everybody admired him."
At his best, Cullen once made only three errors in an entire season. "I didn't play enough games for the Gold Glove, though," he said. "That's what I always wanted."
On the other hand, at his worst, Cullen once made three errors in one game. "When I came to bat, the Washington crowd gave me a standing 'boovation,'" said Cullen. "I think that's the only time they ever stood up for me."
In the ninth inning of that horrific game, Cullen almost made a fourth error-which would have put him in the record books. "I fielded it with my armpit," he said. "The Worm always had good hands."
After such a career, Cullen was accustomed to hard work. He never figured life was easy. When he saw a chance to get into block securities trading with Dean Witter, he jumped.
"I was lucky to find something else I could do," he said, humble as a utility infielder. "I really knew nothing else besides baseball and the securities business."
"Sure, I remember that day. We had lost our last 14 games of the previous season, and I went out and beat Vida . . . shut him out," said Bosman.
Then he paused for effect. "Of course we didn't know who Vida Blue was. If we'd known he was gonna go out and win his next dozen, we might not have touched him."
In many ways, Dick Bosman was the epitome of the Senators-a quintessential baseball player. He once won the earned-run title, and he pitched a no-hitter. His best year was 16-12.
But Bosman, like the Nats, was always trying to win with one hand behind his back.
"Bozzie had guts and control and he'd fight you," said Howard. "He just didn't have much of a fast ball."
So, when the end came, baseball said goodbye to Bosman unceremoniously-pink slip. "Charlie Finley just cut my throat and left me to bleed." said Bosman. "Didn't can me till the end of spring training when it was too late to catch on anywhere else."
Like so many others, Bosman is sure that the last one or two decent years in his arm never were used. They just atrophied and died. Now, it is too late to worry. It makes no difference now.
"At first, being out of the game last year wasn't so bad," said Bosman, who lived in Woodbridge, Va."There was no hometown team, so I didn't feel it."
But now, in Milwaukee, the newspaper sits by his breakfast plate every morning. "There's that damn Sal Bando grinning up at me from among the palm trees every day," said Bosman, who wishes he had never seen the Milwaukee Journal sports page.
"It hits you every day."
"If you play a kid's game for 15 years, really give it your life, then have to walk away-well, anybody that says it doesn't rip 'em apart . . . 90 percent of 'em are lying," said Bosman.
"The real world wears on you more than the game ever did. There's more stress. They say that the game teaches you character. Well, I don't see it. Baseball really doesn't teach life at all. Maybe it is life, but it doesn't teach it.
"I talked to an old friend the other day and I told him. 'The difference between us is that you grew up working and I grow up playing.'
"Just Just because a ball playersweats, he shouldn't kid himselfthat it means he's working. It's just hardplay.
"I once askedMartin Miller (players association lawyer) why he kept working with ballplayers," said Bosman.
"He said, 'You guys keep me young. You actually believe the party is never going to end.'" CAPTION: Illustration 1, no caption; Picture 1, Tim Cullen, B; Picture 2, Mike Epstein, 1B; Picture 3, Frank Howard, LF; Picture 4, Elliott Maddox, RF; Picture 5, Paul Casanova, C; Picture 6, Joe Foy, 3B; Picture 7, Dick Bosman, P; Picture 8, Curt Flood, CF; Picture 9, Toby Harrah, SS; Picture 10, Ted Williams, Mgr.; Picture 11, A quorum call from the Senate sent members from the park in 1964; Everett Dirksen reaches in front of President Johnson to get his coat and join others leaving. UPI; Picture 12, Fans line up for advance tickets for the 1970 opener at RFK between Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers. UPI