"They're giving those squealers too much immunity and you can quote me." This was Billy Martin, baseball's erstwhile very bad boy, taking a moralistic stance and throwing a purple fit at the goings-on in that Pittsburgh courtroom where a half-dozen major leaguers, confessed users, have been dumping on the cocaine habits of certain teammates.
Martin said, "I hate stool pigeons, and these guys are copping on their own pals. The government is plenty to blame, too. Why do they need a dozen players to turn state's evidence when two or three would do? They made a parade out of it."
At his desk in Yankee Stadium's catacombs, Martin was drawing thoughtfully on the pipe that has become his companion. "That last thing, (John) Milner stooling on Willie Mays, really upset me. Those guys who admit they've been using the stuff should be on trial and ain't. They're bringing in other names and hurting other people.
"Let me tell you how I stand on drugs, cocaine and all the rest. First time a player is caught on coke or anything, give him a year out of baseball right away. If he blows rehabilitation, give him life.
"Let's let our country know how strong we are on this. If I find a Yankee on the stuff, I suspend him right away, no consultation with anybody." On the only Yankee involved in the Pittsburgh trial, former Pirate Dale Berra, son of Yogi Berra and now the Yankees' No. 2 third baseman: "I toldYogi two years ago about that kid of his. Although I wasn't managing then, I had friends in Pittsburgh who told me things.
"I told Yogi I was telling him this about his boy because if I had a son I'd expect him, as my friend, to be giving me any information a father needed to know. Yogi said he'd check it out."
About marijuana, which is not unknown in certain baseball clubhouses: "They say marijuana ain't really so bad. The hell it isn't. It's the steppingstone to the next thing, to drugs that blow your mind, and get you caught up in 'em. A drug is a drug. Why do they kid themselves?"
About the squealing on other players, Martin said, "Good guys don't do that. You're not supposed to carry tales. Yankees never did. We didn't dump on each other to the manager or anybody else. We never even told each other how much salary we made. We honored each other because we were Yankees."
He said he felt sorry for Chuck Tanner, the Pirates' nice-guy manager: "What a shame, there. Poor Chuck, my good friend. Managers don't have whole control. We sit in our offices and don't always know what's going on outside in the players' clubhouse."
Martin said he never has been tempted to touch a drug himself. "When I was a boy, I never even smoked when all the kids did. Never took my first puff till I was 21. Sure I've done some drinking and I got a reputation out of that, but God forbid if they ever found me on coke. They'd hang me."
Also, he asked why baseball should be signaled out in a big public trial, "when they ought to test a lot of those politicians and a lot of society. And I'll bet 90 percent of them cheat the government on taxes."
And that's another thing: "At least boozers pay taxes on the stuff they drink. The coke and users and the heroin bums and the pushers don't pay their way, don't pay the government anything."
Martin was talking from the glow of his own status as manager of the Yankees' brand new pennant contender, which just came off an 11-game winning streak and is making a strong run at overhauling Toronto, which has New York dreaming about a subway World Series.
"When I took over from Yogi last spring, we were 6-10," Martin said, "and everybody gave up on us, including George (Steinbrenner)." His Yankees won 80 of their next 124 games "and now we're playing Yankee ball. Willie Randolph is hurt but he's playing tonight. There are no internal problems. There's no Reggie Jackson around to stir things up. Even George isn't saying much."
Did that mean Martin was getting no interference from the Yankees' owner, who likes to manage from the president's office? "No problems with George. Whatever he wants to do, he does, as usual."
Martin easily accounted for the transformation of his new catcher, Ron Hassey, who beat Toronto with a three-run homer Thursday night, after an undistinguished career at Cleveland and a short stop in Chicago. "Winning clubs give players winning personalities," Martin said.
Did he think that first-game victory in the critical Toronto series gave the Yankees a psychological edge, he was asked: "I don't like that word," Martin said. Then what about a possible subway World Series with the Mets? "I don't pay any attention to that kind of stuff. We're trying to win a pennant."
Dave Kindred, the Atlanta columnist, came by to ask Martin about the possibility that Phil Niekro might become the Atlanta manager, and how do pitchers stack up as managers? "Infielders and catchers make the best managers," said former infielder Martin. When the topic was pursued and mention was made that in 1969 Ted Williams was named manager of the year, a bit of Martin bile spilled over.
"I bring the Tigers into second from six the year before and get into the playoffs and Williams gets the award, from taking the Senators into fourth place from 10th," said Martin.
"What do outfielders know about certain infield situations? In 1969, (Wayne) Terwilliger was calling the shots for Williams, who was smart to hire an old infielder."