4/29 Lee Elia

Lee Elia was picked by Dallas Green to manage the Cubs in 1982, and most likely would’ve been the skipper in ’84 if not for some poorly chosen words following a game 30 years ago today. Monday marks the 30-year anniversary of Elia’s tirade after a Cubs loss to the Dodgers (do a search and you’ll find it, just be prepared for the profanities). Here’s his explanation of what happened from my book, “Banks to Sandberg to Grace.” He wanted to talk about it and give his explanation. Just imagine how different it would be today with Twitter and social media and cameras everywhere:

“We were coming off the field, and in those days we had to go down the left field line to get in the locker room, which made it even tougher at times. As we’re walking down the field, Keith Moreland, our right field-catcher kind of guy, got into an argument with a fan, and the next thing I know, Redhead’s in the stands having an altercation. So, we had to pull him off this guy, and this is in a Major League Baseball game. We walked down a little farther after we pulled him off, and Bowa was by the tarp in the bullpen and somebody hit him in the back with something. He goes over the tarp and they’re physically hitting each other. So, me and Vukovich, my dugout coach, we go pull him off.

“So now we’d had these two things on top of the wild pitch by Lee Smith [that let the winning run score] and I go into the clubhouse and had a quick five-minute thing with the club. I told them, ‘Hey, look, we got off slow but we have a bunch of people here and it’s a long season.’ Then I walked into my office and it was packed with the mighty Dodger entourage [of media] so to speak.

“They were asking me questions, and they were not the kind of questions you should ask me after a tough loss. … I asked them, ‘Please, let’s talk about the game.’ It was a tough loss and I’m still hot about going into the stands, and for some reason for that one moment — I never dreamed it would leave the locker room. Some fellow had a little tape recorder and he ran out of the locker room, and next thing I know it’s on the radio, and now it’s part of Chicago trivia. Who’s the manager who said this and that?

“I did say some things I really feel bad about. I think it’s changed me personally. It kind of hurt me because I love the players and I didn’ tthink there was any better place in the world to be than Chicago. You’d be a damn fool not to think they’re the greatest fans in the world. They’ve suffered through defeat and still love the players. But when I made my comments about the fans, I honest to God was directing them at those people who went after Moreland and Bowa. I didn’t mean the Chicago people in general. That was something I often hoped they would always understand, but that was unfortunate.”

– Carrie Muskat

8 Comments

I had never heard Lee Elia’s side of the story. Thanks!

I understood him and the man has stones to come out and say what’s on his mind.
He rolled the dice and was fired because of it but he could have just as easily NOT been fired too…

Keith Moreland played first base at times in addittion to catching and right field. I know that because I recall a specific game I attended in Montreal back in 1984 in which Keith played at first base. Btw, that Expos stadium had to be the ugliest in mlb history. Also recall Elia managing for Scranton/Wilkes Barre AAA affiliate of the Phillies, in early 90`s, I reckon

We next play another team which sucks even more than we, the Padres. What luck! If we could play the Astos after that, we would achieve the mlb hat trick.

I had no clue, Mamma. Thanks for that. Looks as if this series will be a challenge.

I had no clue, Mamma. Thanks for that. Looks as if this series will be a challenge after all. I found that Elia tirade and Carrie`s warning that it includes profanity is a gross understatement, if there ever was one. Precious few words Lee utilized were not profane.

That`s an excellent point, Mamma. Stanton is the real deal and makes one wonder why Marlins` management did not off-load him to another club in the off-season the way they did with Reyes, Johnson, et al.

I AGREE! EXCELLENT POINT!!! Why in the world would Svuem NOT pitch around THE ONLY player on one of the ONLY teams the Cubs have A CHANCE to beat? Let alone go for a series sweep? “We thought we could get him”????? Huh? Is Sveum out to prove THIS team can “get” good hitters out? Yikes. Sveum better get going on gaining some crediblity with his gracious employers let alone us fans. i’m starting to worry as much about Svuem as I am about the “rebuilding”. One word: Sandberg.

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