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Let's Get Physical?
June 27, 2008 - John Mehno
There was considerable discussion in the press box Thursday about the Ed Wade-Shawn Chacon incident in Houston. Most of us know both -- Wade was a Pirates' PR guy from 1981-85, and Chacon pitched here for a season and a half, mostly without distinction and certainly without incident.
I can recall two incidents where a major authority figure and player got into a disagreement that threatened to become physical. The first happened before I started covering the team. In a stormy 1973 season, Richie Hebner and manager Bill Virdon were at odds over something. Hebner walked away from Virdon and muttered a vile obscenity that he didn't think Virdon heard. Virdon charged over to Hebner's locker, where the player was seated in a rocking chair. Fists clenched, he challenged Hebner to repeat what he'd said. Hebner wisely remained seated. Virdon, 42 then, was a tough customer, and besides, it's never a good career move to start throwing punches at your boss. Virdon was fired before that season ended while Hebner stayed here through 1976.
In 1984, pitcher John Candelaria wanted out of Pittsburgh and was doing everything he could to force a trade. That included referring to GM Pete Peterson as a "bozo." Candelaria even had a "No Bozos" sticker on his locker. Peterson, who was dealing with the death of his wife, finally had enough and challenged Candelaria in the dugout at Shea Stadium before a game. Nothing came of that one, either. Both sides downplayed the story, but the late Dick Young got it from one of the dugout security guards, so it was credible. Candelaria got his trade in 1985, a couple of months after Peterson was fired.
Chacon's manhandling of Wade was over the top, even by sports standards. It's probably career suicide for a marginal player like Chacon.