David Wharton was fiddling with the portable hand-held phone
at his desk inside the Phillies complex. Not his telephone, but the one Alfonseca
threw on the ground and kicked because the other pitchers were calling him
The phone was clogged with dirt and no one could hear anything. They first noticed it in Atlanta, when it rang but not a voice could be heard through the ear-set. So when Ramon picked it up and said, ‘yea?’…there was silence.
Therefore, Uncle Charlie couldn’t summon any of the bull pen pitchers all during that three game series. Which, frankly, ticked off Bobby Cox.”
“G-damit hell,” Cox hollered a few times during that series. “How come they ain’t got the bull pen up? We score two runs and we got the freakin’ bases jammed up, and ‘pot belly’ let’s em pitch out of it? No wonder we get swept!”
Thing is, Cox didn’t realize there was dirt in the portable hand-held because of Alfonseca’s temper tantrum. If he had, he would have had Roger the Dodger take a new set down there faster than you can say Beaumont, Texas. Then the phone rings in David's office.
“He, he, he,” David Wharton chuckles to know one in particular, after all, he was alone. ‘I’m workin’ on a phone, and another phone rings,’ he thinks. “He, he, he, that’s sometin’.”
“Sir, there is a man on the line but he won’t say who it is.”
“What?” David said, “Is it Dallas? Is it Gillick in Toronto?”
“I don’t think so sir, he wouldn’t say." David took the call.
“They know,”said the mysterious voice on the other end.
“What?” Wharton said. “Who knows? What are you talking about? Who is this?”
“They know, they know everything. It’s out of the bag.”
David Wharton stood up, frozen in fear. He knew what the voice was talking about. The voice didn’t have to say, he knew instinctively. He feared this day would come. Feared it more than Burrell’s salary.
“Oh yea?” David said. “How do they know? You know everything, tell me, how do they know?”
“The CIA,”the Voice said.“The CIA spilled the beans this morning. Now they all know.”
“Oh my God,” David said, “no, please, not this. Who is this? Is this Deep Voice?”
“It doesn’t matter who it is, what matters is it’s out.”And then the phone went dead.
David hung up. He face was ashen. ‘The CIA,’ he thought, ‘I knew it would be them. I just knew it.’
All Phillies executives knew the hated CIA was Cataldi and Iskin on the Airwaves. It didn’t matter Howard spelled his name with an E, when it came to the CIA, it was Cataldi and Irskin on the Airways. The most feared tandem since Koufax and Drysdale.
What ‘came out’ was the deal the Phillies brass made with Jim Thome when they signed him. The ‘Kiddie-GM’ at the time, who, for his advancement purposes, thought that signing Thome, would finally make him a grown up GM.
The CIA announced over the air this week that the Phillies promised Thome, if he brought his lumber to Philly, they would one day make his Uncle Charlie the manager.
It was a promise. It was ‘the deal.’
Sure, Larry Bowa, the Philliles skipper at the time, shook hands and smiled and introduced Thome to the hard hats, but Bowa didn’t know about ‘the deal.’ Only a few were trusted with that secret.
And of course, Deep Voice.
David Wharton leaned back in his chair and stared out the window at Billy Penn. ‘This could be big trouble,’ he thought. ‘If they found out about this, they may look harder at the other thing’s we’ve done, like “it wasn’t Brett’s fault,” and “Flash is fit as a fiddle,” or “our bull pen is concrete solid.”
‘Then,’ David thought, ‘they’ll realize the interview process for Bowa’s replacement was a farce, that Uncle Charlie had it all the time. It was Charlie from the git-go. Then when Leyland applied for the job it almost screwed everything up.’
‘But that voice…Deep Voice…sounded so familiar. If we could only figure out who…’
‘I’ll get that Deep Voice,’ David thought.