Know your role…

 Thirty-six years ago this month, the great media mogul, Ted Turner discovered there was one thing he couldn’t do: manage his own baseball team. Even the inspiring and resilient Turner, who founded CNN, TBS and the WCW, sailed to victory in the America’s Cup and used his cable empire to turn his Atlanta Braves into “America’s Team”, had limitations.

Turner decided to try is hand as the skipper of the Braves’ ship because it was sinking. The Braves had lost 16 straight, dropping a doubleheader sweep by the Pirates in Pittsburgh on May 10 dropping Atlanta to 8-21 on the year. Turner “fired” his current skipper, Dave Bristol, for 10 days, in order for Turner to find out what was wrong with his team.”When things are gong bad, there are 10,000 guys in the stands who think, ‘If I could just take over this ball club for a while, I’d straighten them out,’” said Turner, who owned the team until 1996. To that end, “If I’m smart enough to save $11 million to buy the team, I ought to be smart enough to manage it.” [Insert massive red flag here! ]Well to followers of “The Turner 10,000” theory here is a lesson in knowing your role…


The Owner-President-General Manager-Skipper move took the players, coaches and league commissioners by surprise. Braves Hall of Fame pitcher, Phil Niekro, who was due to start that night’s game against John Candelaria at Three Rivers Stadium, was just getting through swinging in the cage, when Turner came out of the dugout in a blue-and-white Braves uniform, wearing No. 27 and he walked behind the batting cage. This is Nieko’s account of the incident:
I [Niekro] looked at him and jokingly I said, “Ted, what spot you got me hitting in today?” And he said, ‘Hell, I don’t know. You want to lead off? You want to hit second or third? We just lost 16 in a row. You’ve been around here long enough. Hit wherever you want to.” To which I replied, “I don’t think that’s going to work, Ted. Put me in that ninth spot.
Needless to say, May 11 was a crash course lesson in managing for Turner. Braves infielder Darrel Chaney, recounts the night as Turner playing copycat with the Pirates’ manager Chuck Tanner: “Back then, everybody’s chewing tobacco, so Ted had a big ol’ chaw in his mouth and he was kind of looking over there [at Chuck Tanner] and it looked to me that every time Tanner would cross his legs, Turner would cross his legs, you know? Like he was trying to figure out what to do.”


As with most WCW matches Turner’s skipper debut result was a foregone conclusion – The Pirates scored runs in the first and third innings and won 2-1 to extend the Braves’ losing streak to 17 games. After the game, Turner held court with reporters, and magnanimously showed everyone the check he’d received early that evening for meal money. But that would be his one and only day as a big league skipper. National League president Chub Feeney, supported by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, gave him the boot the next day, stating that anyone who owned stock in a team was forbidden to manage it. The next day the Braves won 6-1 to end the streak, but ended the season 61-101. (Side note: When informed that he couldn’t manage the Braves, Turner asked if it was OK if I went and managed in the minors for a year and really learned how to do it.  Nope.) What is the moral of the story? No matter how good you are at one thing or multiple things for that matter, doesn’t make you an expert at all. Turner is a media genius who more than like had a deep and immense knowledge of the game of baseball as well. However, Turner’s ability to manage a multi-billion dollar business didn’t translated into his ability to manage a baseball team. This same maxim applies to the legal world as well. While the money-grubbing jokes, heartless horror stories and endless extra cheesy sales commercials endure; good attorneys will always be in demand. That is our role – the law. There may be times when it appears that your respective legal matters are languishing with an 8-21 record, however, I would implore you remember that even the great Ted Turner needed to rely on those who had a greater knowledge in a specific field than than he did. A knowledge that is not learned in a minor league managerial stunt, a.k.a. the forms/legal minds on the internet.  Know your role…call an attorney when necessary…which may be more often than you realize.