Former Dodgers’ GM Fred Claire has seen plenty of labor disputes and has had plenty of conversations with owners across the industry. One thing that he has always stressed is that the relationship between players and owners needs to be one of trust.
Claire sat down with Dodgers Nation this week to talk labor disputes and player pay, but one little interesting tidbit also popped up. The former GM talked about one occasion when team owner Walter O’Malley was asked what he would have paid Sandy Koufax if he had not retired from baseball.
I was with Mr. O’Malley on one occasion when he was asked after Sandy had retired, this was a few years after Sandy had retired and times had changed, he said ‘What would Sandy make if he was still playing?’. And Walter spun that cigar, and he said ‘He would be my partner, he would be my partner’.
O’Malley began his ownership tenure with the Dodgers back in Brooklyn during the 1940s and would not relinquish it entirely until his death in 1979. During that time, Sandy Koufax dominated the league, particularly from 1962 to 1966. A three-time Cy Young Award winner, Koufax retired at the young age of 30. An arthritic issue in his elbow ended the career of a guy that O’Malley likely would’ve given any amount of money he could ever ask for.
And after all, that’s what this is. That’s what I’ve always strived to do. We have a partnership, we are not separate entities…If we can’t figure out in a sport that has now gone over $10 billion in annual revenues, if we can’t figure out how to come to an agreement, then we’re really in deep trouble.
Claire reiterated that if there is no trust between players and ownership, and they cannot come to an agreement, there is a real issue within baseball.