San Diego Padres owner Joan Kroc said yesterday that she won't let club President Ballard Smith and General Manager Jack McKeon bully Dick Williams into quitting as manager of the team.
Kroc reacted to published reports that Williams, upset over McKeon's firing of third base coach Ozzie Virgil, planned to accept an offer by the club to buy out the final year of his contract.
Neither Williams, who is a good friend of Virgil, nor Kroc was consulted before Virgil's firing last month. Virgil was quoted as saying his firing was a deliberate attempt by Padres management to undermine Williams and force him to quit. "I'm very upset about it," Kroc told the Associated Press. " . . . I never heard an unkind word about Ozzie. I need to talk to Ballard."
Kroc said she usually leaves the team's day-to-day operations to Smith, who is her son-in-law, and McKeon. "But when it comes to the big decisions, no one is going to make them but me," she said.
The Padres owner also dismissed as nonsense a reported agreement among Smith, McKeon and Williams that the club would buy out the final year of Williams' contract, worth an estimated $250,000. "That will never happen," Kroc said. "They'll (Smith and McKeon) have to use their own money because I'm not using mine." . . .
Third baseman George Brett of the world champion Kansas Royals, capturing the one major award that had eluded him during his 12-year big league career, was named to the American League Gold Glove team.