Scooper not enough for Schott this time

KEN ROSENTHAL

November 28, 1992|By KEN ROSENTHAL

She collects swastikas. She spews racist venom. She doesn' understand the fuss.

The more you think about it, Marge Schott makes Al "They Can't Swim" Campanis sound like Martin Luther King.

Schott, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, has long been one of baseball's oddest figures, but no longer are we talking about her incredible cheapness, or her bizarre devotion to her dogs.

The latest revelations about Schott prove she's unfit to work at a Dairy Queen, much less own a major-league team. The question now is, what's baseball going to do about it?

Oh, probably nothing.

Once upon a time, the sport had something called a commissioner. Now, it has something called the Executive Council, which has the power to suspend Schott or fine her up to $250,000.

Suspend Marge?

Who would take care of Schottzie 02?

Fine her?

Nah, she'd just fire another general manager.

Schott had one of the better GMs, a fellow named Bob Quinn. He's Roland Hemond's brother-in-law, and just as fine a gentleman. If the Reds hadn't been crippled by injuries, he might have been named Major League Executive of the Year for the second time in three years.

Instead, Schott fired him on Oct. 12, six days after Lou Piniella resigned in frustration as manager. That's three GMs dumped by Schott in the past eight years. Her newest find is Jim Bowden, the team's former director of player development. He's all of 31 years old.

That much, baseball can tolerate.

Racism, it can not.

Does anyone really doubt that Schott said, "I'd rather hire a trained monkey" than a black, as alleged by a former member of the Oakland A's front office? Only one of her 45 front-office employees is a minority. Cincinnati's mayor, who is black, calls her hiring record "unacceptable."

Yet for all that, there's no guarantee the owners will turn on one of their own, not when there's union-busting to be done. Of course, they could solicit an offer to buy the Reds from their friends in St. Petersburg, Fla., then find "local investors" to keep the team in Cincinnati.

That always works.

Yep, but Marge wouldn't go for it. In fact, she's already regrouping. Yesterday, she met with local black and Jewish leaders in Cincinnati. Now she'll be looking to hire some tokens as proof that she's enlightened.

Hey, the politicians get makeovers.

Why not Marge?

To think, Schottzie 02 was her biggest public-relations problem -- until the world discovered her Nazi paraphernalia. Schott permits her lovable St. Bernard to romp on the field before games. A pooper scooper is just as valuable as a Louisville Slugger during batting practice.

The dog is so important to Schott, she banned Cincinnati Post beat writer Jerry Crasnick from the press dining room after he quoted Reds pitcher Tim Belcher criticizing Schottzie. Belcher responded by sending pizzas to Crasnick in the press box.

Any time a player and writer get that chummy, you know something's wrong.

The Reds don't worry about ground rules, they worry about pound rules. The general manager keeps scouting reports in one drawer, dog biscuits in another. It's not a ballclub, it's a kennel club -- and when it comes to finances, Schott isn't afraid to apply a choker collar.

Just this past season, Schott charged Piniella for three autographed baseball bats he donated to a local charity. Another time, she charged Quinn a vacation day when he played in a charity golf tournament held by the Reds' Tom Browning.

There's more, much more.

Remember when Schott wouldn't pay for Eric Davis' flight home after he punctured his kidney in the 1990 World Series? Everyone in baseball rooted against Schott that October. She treats scouts like ticks, and would much prefer to hire high school and college kids to assess each others' talents at minimum wage.

Now, on top of everything else, we learn that Schott is racist. It's a measure of her arrogance that she's not the least bit apologetic about it.

Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, chairman of baseball's Executive Council, said it was "inappropriate" to comment on the "trained monkey" remark. Fine, Bud, start with any of the others. Your little tribunal overthrew the commissioner. Now do some dirty work.

She collects swastikas. She's spews racist venom.

Guess what, folks?

She's a major-league owner.

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