Perhaps Gene Mauch was putting on the polite during his first swing through the league, hailing friends well-met and all that, but he has unleashed his acid tongue the second time around and ears have been burned. “As long as that little genius manages your team, it’ll finish last,” said an angry Leo Durocher, referring to Mauch as he blasted Expos’ G.M. Jim Fanning during the Cubs’ unsuccessful sortie north of the border.
Durocher was fuming during Chicago’s trip to Jarry Park and he blamed Fanning for everything but Ron Santo’s flu. Added to his misery was a war of words his team lost to Mauch through the Montreal skipper’s sheer volume, content, and persistence. Admired by newsman for his original quotes – even when his best jabs are aimed at them – Mauch may command respect but little affection from opponents. Even members of the Expos admit they detested the man until they began playing for him and understood better his craving for victory.
Prime target for Mauch’s needling was Cub third baseman Ron Santo, perhaps the strongest link in the Chicago machine and certainly the closet set of ears to the home team’s dugout. “I didn’t say a word to Santo,” Mauch insisted. “I was just talking to my catcher, saying ‘Hey’ and ‘Atta boy.'” If so, Santo has a low boiling point because he charged the Montreal dugout during the opener of the four game set, a game the Cubs lost 15-1.