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Flashback Friday: Point/Counterpoints
12/14/2012 9:59 AM ET
Was former Foxes manager Earl Weaver worthy of our "opprobrium", too?
Was former Foxes manager Earl Weaver worthy of our "opprobrium", too? 
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The Appleton Foxes game that featured the San Diego Chicken on July 1, 1985 was the subject of Flashback Friday two weeks ago.

That story noted an argument Foxes manager Sal Rende, pitching coach Mitch Lukevics, and catcher Jim Markert had with umpire Dave Wilk that ended in the ejection of all three members of the Foxes.

The story - published on July 2 - did not get into the details of the argument or the aftermath.

The Post-Crescent editorial board decided to weigh in on the incident with an Opinion on the Editorial Page for their July 7, 1985 edition.  

Temper tantrums by adults who play games

In the seventh inning of last Monday night's Appleton Foxes game against Burlington, there was a close play at second base when a Burlington player stole the base and was called safe by the umpire.  Foxes Manager Sal Rende, who evidently thought he had a better view of the dust-obscured action from the dugout than the umpire did from atop the play, charged out to argue.

Rende not only lost the argument, as usually happens when umpires' decisions are challenged, but he was ejected from the game.  En route to the team locker room, he angrily kicked at the dirt near third base, then slammed a Gatorade cooler against a fence behind the dugout.  He was mad.

Before the inning was over, two more Foxes were thrown out of the game and Burlington had scored four more runs to take a lead it wouldn't yield.

Because of the added attraction of the San Diego Chicken, 4,463 fans were in attendance at Goodland Field, the second largest of the season.  Most of those 4,463 fans saw Rende's temper tantrum.  Many of them were children who are growing up to idolize such things as humans dressed as chickens and adults who play games for a living.

***  

The problem was not Rende's disagreement with the umpire's call, not even his going out to second base to talk about it, though you'd think a manager of a professional sports team would understand that close calls are a part of the game.

The problem was Rende's obvious anger, which he saw nothing wrong with venting in front of a thousand or so youngsters - all this over a close call at second which might have gone either way.
 

***  

Rende is not the only such culprit in modern-day athletics.  But he is being picked on here because he is the latest hearabouts and because his fit of anger was witnessed by so many young people who deserve better heroes than someone who takes out his anger on an umpire by hitting a Gatorade cooler when he knows that every eye in the ballpark is trained on him.

Today's youngsters have a right to grow up without being subjected to such antics.  Unfortunately, most professional sporting contests do not provide an atmosphere where boys and girls can have fun by cheering for the good guys without really worrying much about winning or losing.  Some adults are always around to egg on the combatants.

The next time we see two padded behemoths squaring off on the football field as if they mean to inflict bodily harm on each other, we shouldn't be so quick to choose sides by joining in the cry for blood that usually descends from the stands in such cases.

We should let the big babies know that no one likes poor losers or poor winners, that opprobrium will be their only reward.

 ---

Appleton Foxes general manager Bill Smith responded with a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the July 13, 1985 edition of the PC.  

Sal Rende is a winner on and off the field

I am embarrassed and infuriated over Mike Walter's commentary in last Sunday's Post-Crescent.  As general manager of the Appleton Foxes, I have worked very closely with Sal Rende during the past year and a half, and it is very disappointing to see ignorant remarks pointed at one who is a winner in every sense of the word.

Sal Rende is hired by the Chicago White Sox to develop players, win games, and be a very active member in our organization and out community.  His brief record in all three areas is nothing short of magnificent.  Consider that:

  • His winning record on the field is better than anybody's in professional baseball.

  • Twenty of the 32 players who wore the Foxes' uniform last year were promoted at least one level in the minor league network.

  • In 1-1/2 years, Sal Rende has volunteered his services to put on over 20 clinics for area youngsters, and has attended meetings of local service clubs to talk about professional baseball.  In addition, he volunteered to put on a series of instructional clinics which are running this summer on our local cablevision station.

Mike Walter's criticism of Sal Rende is no more accurate than if he had said, "The Foxes are a terrible team because they lost the night the Chicken was there."  You cannot completely judge a man by what you see at one game.

In short, Sal Rende is a winner on and off the field.  He deserves much better than the cheap slap in the face he received.  Before Mike Walter writes a sequel, I hope he will do a little homework.

---

The defense of Sal Rende would not be complete without a Letter to the Editor by a fan.  Patti McFarland's was published on July 19, 1985.

Baseball arguments are part of the game  

For most of the spring and summer we read little about the Appleton Foxes, except for the daily reports of the games which are more often than not buried in the back of the sports section.  Now in the past couple of weeks they get all sorts of attention.  This is the year their contract with the Sox runs out and now an editorial about our manager's argument with the umpire.  Is this "Pick on the Foxes Month" or something?

It's too bad we do have arguments between players, coaches, managers and the umpires, but this is all part of the great game of baseball and always has been.

We remember Earl Weaver being ejected far more times than Sal, and his outbursts were much worse, but we still love Earl despite his temper.  The same is true of Sal, who is a fine young manager and should be in the "bigs" before too long.  We don't believe Earl's temper tantrums ever hurt anyone or were a bad influence on anyone.

Surely we would rather see a manager, player, or coach kick or push around a water cooler than actually push around the umpire.

Frankly, we were a little more disturbed by one part of the Chicken's act than we were by Sal's short outburst of anger.

When the Chicken came out with his life-size dummy of an umpire and proceeded to punch, kick and stomp all over it, that was a bit excessive, we thought, and much more violent than necessary.  But you evidently didn't see that or chose to overlook it.

NOTE:
The only thing I will add to the responses of Bill and Patti is this: If you use the word "opprobrium" in an editorial about a baseball argument, you are trying way too hard to make a larger point.

RECENT FLASHBACK FRIDAYS:
Money (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part II (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part III (1987)

Subsidy Saga Part IV (1987)

Our Rivals in Beloit (1996)

Chicken & a Ballgame (1985)

1942 Home Opener

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