I loved going in to New York to play the Mets. New Yorkers love baseball, and they love their Mets.
At Shea Stadium the fine officers of the NYPD used to be on guard. I would holler to them and say, “Hey guys, hold your heads up high, you represent the second greatest police force in America!”
They used to go crazy after I said that and get all over me.
So after one game the clubby told me there was a group of officers waiting outside the clubhouse door for me. When I came out they presented me with an old, scuffed-up ball that read, “To the second greatest manager in all of baseball.”
Every time I go to New York I look forward to talking to the fine men and women of the NYPD. They wear their uniforms with pride, dignity and character, and I couldn’t be any prouder of the outstanding job they do.
I was the third base coach for the Dodgers from 1973-76. In 1975 we lost to the Cincinnati Reds by 20 games, and in ’76 we lost to the Reds by 10 games. In 1977 I became Manager of the Dodgers, and during that offseason I went all around the country telling everybody that the Reds would never beat the Dodgers again.
When I got back to LA, AL Campanis called me in to his office and told me that I can’t talk that way because the Reds are a great ballclub and their team is stacked with future Hall of Famers.
I said, “Al, I said it because I believe it, and I want my players to believe it.”
When I was coaching it frosted me to see our guys lose to the Reds like that. I believed we had a better ball club. For Spring Training in ’77 I made a few new rules:
1. Nobody wears the color red in our clubhouse
2. I hate the Reds and so do you
3. You’ve go tot believe that you are a better ballclub
We went on the win the National League pennant, and in doing so beat the Reds by 10 games for a 20-game swing.
Tonight we start a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati, and I hope the tradition we set in the late 70’s continues today.
Yesterday my wife, Jo and I, celebrated our 60th anniversary. I wrote a letter to God about her because I love her so much, and am so thankful to have her.
Here it is:
April 14, 2010
I thank you every day for blessing me with my beautiful wife, Jo. Today we celebrate our 60th anniversary, as we were married under your eyes on April 14, 1950. If I could have written down on a piece of paper what I wanted in a wife, you couldn’t have given me anyone finer than Jo.
The love I have for Jo, I learned from loving you. Just as you have filled my life with light, and my heart with love, I hope I have passed that overflowing feeling to her. With all my heart, I made a commitment to her, to be a loving husband and a dedicated father, and I lived my life to fulfill that commitment.
Together we started a life built on the hope of a prayer. They all said it would never work, an Italian Catholic from the north and a Southern Baptist.
Together we built a family, and looking in the eyes of our children we realized the meaning of your love and the significance of life’s purpose.
Together we danced the dance of life, and through the good times and the bad, I am so thankful that Jo carried me with her grace and her faith. Where there was darkness she gave me light. Where there was despair she gave me hope. Where there was doubt she gave me faith. It’s your love that I want, but it’s hers that I need.
I love her with all my heart, and I will be forever grateful for the precious gift you gave to me. These 60 years with Jo have been breathtaking, and I ask you for another 60 years together.