When Chris Chambliss declined an offer from the New York Yankees to be their first base coach two weeks ago, he knew he had made a difficult and relatively courageous decision. He had passed on an opportunity to move to the major leagues and earn a higher salary, not to mention the licensing money that has made major-league coaching far more rewarding.
Chambliss had opted for a third year of managing at the Double A level, a second year working in the Atlanta Braves organization.
Now the decision appears wise. Chambliss has received an offer to manage the Braves' Triple A Richmond affiliate, and he has been contacted by both Chicago clubs. He is to be interviewed within the next week by the White Sox for the vacant managerial position and, he assumes, the contact made last week by the Cubs concerns their managerial position.
If the former Yankees first baseman, who is black, winds up accepting the Braves offer, he would become the lone minority member among 26 Triple A managers. And if he were to be appointed to either Chicago position, he would increase the number of minority managers in the major leagues to three. Either way, he would further a cause.
"Things have moved in the right direction since [the decision about the Yankees]," Chambliss said yesterday morning from Atlanta after attending Braves organizational meetings. "It's gratifying and there's time to look at all the options. I'm certainly not going to leave the Braves unless it's for a job at a higher level."
Chambliss has spoken with White Sox general manager Ron Schueler but he hasn't spoken directly with the Cubs. The Cubs situation became less muddled yesterday with the appointment of Larry Himes as president.
Chambliss could have left for a higher level with the Yankees, but he saw a job as a first base coach as somewhat of a dead-end position. "Managers usually come from among Triple A managers and major-league third base coaches. The duties [the Yankees] described didn't fit into what I wanted to do," he said.
Chambliss' selfless decision was hailed by other minorities -- Frank Robinson, Don Baylor and Frank White, who last week accepted a position to manage a rookie league team with the Red Sox.