MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Free-agent first baseman Wally Joyner proved yesterday that money isn't everything, choosing to end a bitter relationship with the California Angels and accept a much smaller contract from the Kansas City Royals.
Joyner signed a one-year deal that will pay him $4.2 million and retained the right to become a free agent next year. He could have re-signed with the Angels for four years and close to $16 million, but instead said farewell in a teary news conference at the Fontainebleau Resort.
"This is probably the toughest decision I've ever had to make," said Joyner, who had spent nine years in the Angels organization. "I've enjoyed my time with the California Angels. That's where Wally World started, but in my opinion, I didn't see any future with myself and the Angels."
Joyner had tears in his eyes and his voice cracked on several occasions as he explained why he had broken off negotiations with Angels senior vice president Whitey Herzog the night before.
The problem apparently went much higher than Herzog, who was praised by Joyner and agents Barry Axelrod and Michael Watkins. Joyner also praised owner Gene Autry, leaving Jackie Autry as the obvious -- but unstated -- target of his dismay.
"I've had problems with the Angels, but I apologize for making a scene," he said, tears welling up again. "I didn't think this was going to happen. There has been a lot of pressure building up."
Unintended or not, it will play as great theater in Southern California, where a legion of Joyner fans are certain to cast Mrs. Autry as the villain in the club's latest passion play.
In Kansas City, however, the Royals were happy to take Joyner off their hands. General manager Herk Robinson was looking for first-base help and he was hoping to get it without giving up one of his front-line pitchers. He succeeded without even having to give up a long-term contract.