Manager Chuck Tanner of the Pittsburgh Pirates testified today in U.S. District Court that he did not specifically warn Dale Berra to stay away from Curtis Strong, but did warn him last season to stay away from "an unsavory man who hung around hotels."
But, under examination by defense attorney Adam Renfroe Jr., Tanner said he could not identify Strong, who is accused of selling cocaine to major-league baseball players, as "the short, fat, black guy" about whom he warned Berra.
Today's court session ended in early afternoon, after Renfroe told Judge Gustave Diamond and prosecutors during a private bench conference that he had decided not to call pitcher Joaquin Andujar of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Andujar, a 20-game winner, pitched for St. Louis tonight in a 10-4 victory over the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. Court personnel had left for lunch expecting Andujar to be the next witness. Renfroe was uncharacteristically unavailable for comment today.
Also unavailable was Jack Crummett, a Philadelphia lawyer who is representing Andujar here. It was uncertain whether Andujar might be called to testify Wednesday.
Previously, Lonnie Smith of the Kansas City Royals testified that he bought cocaine from the defendant and used it with Andujar and Keith Hernandez when they were teammates on the Cardinals in 1982, about three weeks before Andujar was the winning pitcher in the seventh game of the World Series.
Although Smith and Hernandez testified they used cocaine with Andujar, neither was asked if Andujar bought any from the defendant.
Although Tanner today refuted some of Berra's statements -- especially that Tanner had warned Berra in the Pirates' clubhouse to stay away from Strong -- U.S. Attorney J. Alan Johnson's cross-examination elicited answers from Tanner and another witness that might help the prosecution when the case goes to the jury.
Diamond told the jury before he sent them home for the day that the case "was winding down" and he expects it to be in their hands in "the next day or day and a half."
John Holt, a part-time travel agent, testified that on Sept. 10, 1982 -- when or about when Strong is accused of selling cocaine to Dave Parker in a Pittsburgh hotel -- Strong was attending an orientation meeting for a white-water rafting trip the defendant was scheduled to make a week later in West Virginia.
But, in cross-examination, Johnson estabished that Holt could not account for Strong's whereabouts on the remaining dates of a series in which the Pirates were at home to play the Philadelphia Phillies. Parker testified he bought cocaine from Strong during that series.
Later, during a recess, Strong, who is 5 feet 10 1/2 and heavyset, said of white-water rafting, "I love it. It's a great sport, really."
Tanner testified that he did not know Strong and did not remember having any "personal discussion" with Berra about him. But Tanner also testified that one of his coaches last year warned him about "this short, fat, black guy who hangs around the hotels."
Tanner said he and the team's trainer went to Tanner's room, that the trainer called Berra at the unspecified hotel and told him, "You better be careful because there are a lot of people around who are the type of people you don't want to be around."
Tanner, the first baseball executive to testify in this trial, also said he could not recall the existence of a league memorandum concerning drugs. But Tanner said that Harry Gibbs, baseball's director of security, "came around and told us things he'd like done . . . He said to tighten up the clubhouse."
At that time, players were allowed to bring friends into the clubhouse. There has been testimony in the case that Parker's friendship had allowed at least two alleged cocaine dealers access to the clubhouse. John Milner testified he bought two grams of cocaine from Strong there during a game on June 13, 1980.
Tanner said the change in policy on admitting friends to the clubhouse was a direct result of a cocaine case involving players on the Kansas City Royals. "We closed down the clubhouse the last two years," he said. "The commissioner thought it was a good idea. My father couldn't get in the clubhouse now."
Players might testify Wednesday in another cocaine-trafficking case if jury selection and opening statements are completed in the trial of Robert McCue, 38, of Pittsburgh, who is charged with 13 counts of cocaine-trafficking.
Berra, who testified during the Strong trial that he bought cocaine from McCue in Pittsburgh, is expected to be the first player called by the prosecution. Also listed as government witnesses are Milner, who is now out of baseball, and Rod Scurry, whose contract was sold last week to the Yankees.
In another development, Shelby Greer, who was named by Parker as his primary source of cocaine, has been scheduled for a court appearance here next Tuesday and is expected to enter into a plea-bargaining agreement then. He was indicted on 10 counts of cocaine-trafficking.