Q. So was it your connection with the Reds that brought you here to
A. No, actually we moved to
Q. In Milwaukee, you got to play with a young Hank Aaron, and when you were traded to
A. I remember him very well when he came up. Charlie Hustle! I was always impressed with his hustle. I mean he had a lot of enthusiasm and that impressed everyone. I got to play with him early in his career. I also saw Johnny Bench when he first came up. I didn’t get to play with him, but he was in our Spring Training camp. He was very impressive as a young man, and saw that the Reds had the making of a great future.
Q. You finished your career with the Braves in 1966, their first season in
A. Yeah, I got traded back there. I was having arm trouble and that was just a stop on the way out. I think they got me back out of sentiment, probably. The years I was in
Q. What did you do with your life after you left baseball?
A. A bit of everything. We lived in
Q. Do you still keep up with the game today?
A. In the sense that I still watch it on television. I don’t keep in touch with the players too much. We’ve been dispersed all over the country. But baseball has a fraternity, and I belong to it. I don’t follow it as closely as I used to, but I still keep up with it. I enjoy watching the local team, the Rays. They’re a great team and very exciting. I watched them a lot last year. Cincinnati honored me with the (team) Hall of Fame induction last year, so I keep in touch with them a little bit. They offer to bring me up there occasionally for appearances and things like that. Other than that, I’m basically retired.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on the so-called “Steroid Era” of baseball? As a one-time teammate of Hank Aaron, was it hard to see his record broken in what may have been a dirty manner?
A. It’s nothing I know anything about, really. I’m not an expert in the field. I don’t know what steroids do. I know they don’t hit the ball for you. They don’t perform for you. As I understand it, they enhance your physical ability to some degree. It seems they enhance a player's strength, so I suppose that equates into hitting more home runs. I don’t really know that for a fact, though if you look at the statistics home runs have gone down now.
There are other things that are involved too. When Henry Aaron played, I don’t know what he did in the off-season, but most of us players had jobs. Now, the players train all year 'round. They can do that because of their contracts. The training and medicine available is better too. In my day, I probably could have pitched another six years with what’s available today.
There have been other controversies in baseball, such as the live ball era. There were years when the ball was dead, then all of a sudden you had a lot of home runs, so they’d accuse them of livening the ball up.
You look at the Pittsburgh Pirates. They moved the fence at Forbes Field about 30 feet in for Hank Greenberg. They called it “Greenberg’s Gardens.” Ralph Kiner ended up taking advantage of it. So there were all those things going on, but steroids are not a good thing. I don’t mean to sound like I’m glossing over it. Still, I blame the players less than I blame leadership in baseball. They should have come out more strongly against it. They either didn’t know what they were doing, or didn’t know the so-called force of steroids.