A MOJOR LEAGUE VETERAN

"But Fingers came back to pitch in relief that day, and for every game of the four-game series that we swept. He turned out to be our most valuable player."

The writer moves up into the stands behind home plate to watch the game.
Seated two rows in front of him is veteran minor league manager Joe Sparks.

"I wrote a story one time that Joe Sparks had been named the White Sox manager," the writer says. "The story was ready to go to press when I learned that Bill Veeck, the club owner, had given the job to somebody else. I actually ran down to the press room and stopped the presses. But I mailed a copy of the page proof to Joe Sparks so he could read it."

A half-inning later, Sparks approaches his old writer friend. Although he is regarded as one of the best minor league managers, he still has not made it to the big leagues.

The two men shake hands.
"You know," Sparks says, "I still have that headline you sent me about being hired to manage the White Sox that time."

Sparks hesitates.
"I should have had that job, too," he says. Some things die hard.
Reggie Jackson climbs up the steps and shouts a greeting to the writer.

"I got some friends I got to see," Reggie says apologetically and moves on.

Two innings later, Reggie is back.
"Do you have one of those cigars you're always carrying?" Reggie asks.
The writer looks at Reggie gravely. He goes into his coat pocket and pulls out a cigar and hands it to him.

"You're a good baseball man," Reggie says, grinning. "I can tell why both of us deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."

"Reggie," says Jerome Holtzman of the Chicago Tribune, "you're still remarkable in so many ways. No wonder you're such a star.

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