A Major Success|
Book 6 of Outside the Foul Lines
by Rick Beck
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We bought a weight training station for the house. They came to install it from the factory and Pittsburgh's trainer came to plan the exercises he and the doctors wanted Andy to do. He stressed repetition and no heavy weight until his next complete physical.
It had a slant board for sit-ups and a dip station for his triceps. He was forbidden to do dips until it was cleared under the trainer's supervision. Any part of Andy's body that needed condition was covered on this highly recommended gear, except one. I was giving him all the exercise he could possibly want. If he wasn't in condition yet, he soon would be, or I'd want to know why not.
For an hour each day he went into his exercise room and worked up a sweat. There was no strain put on the left arm but he did use it and put some weight on it as time went on. He was as careful with that arm as he could be. It would come around in time and he was going to give it all the time it took.
* * * * * * * * *
The meeting about buying a sailboat was arranged for the week before Thanksgiving. The boat that was available was larger, extravagantly decorated, and in Corpus Christi, Texas. Both Andy and I raised an eyebrow when it was described and a picture of it appeared on the computer screen in front of us. Even in a picture it looked too big.
"I've only got one good arm. I want something I'm able to sail. It is supposed to be to relax and get some R&R after the chemo was done. I can't handle that."
George turned the computer screen around to look at the boat.
"It's a boat for a man with means. You have the means, Andy," Bobo, the Pittsburgh batting coach said. "You asked me to look and when I put the word out to my people, this came back as the best buy anywhere. It has a three man crew. You get to relax completely. They do the work."
"That's a lot of money," Andy remarked, having seen the price listed under the picture of the boat.
"We can slip over to Boston in an hour and I can put you in a brand new sailboat coming off their factory floor in two hours. It won't be half the boat and it will be more money. This is almost new. It was fitted for the guy that bought it. He died after taking delivery a month ago. His estate has to unload it to liquidate his assets for final distribution.
"The only reason I know about it is because I know a guy that knows a guy. It isn't on the market yet, as soon as it is, it'll be gone. A cash offer in six figures will buy a boat that probably retailed at half a million. You can park it in your driveway and sell it in a year and double your money, because you can wait to get your price. His estate wants this boat sold yesterday.
"I'm told it is a honey of a boat, once you get past the inside looking like a brothel. A few thousand dollars and a decent decorator can fix that. The price mentioned to me was one hundred and fifty thousand. The price on the picture is $200,000 because it came from the shipbuilder marked $250,000. Anyone knows anything about boats, knows that's steal if you can get past the brothel look, which is to our advantage."
"Shipbuilder?" Andy said.
"We'll take a look and make them an offer. They want one fifty," George Kelly said. "My company is looking for a yacht we can use to take employees and customers out on to impress them. I'll propose a deal where we pay for the crew and the upkeep, you let us have access to the boat during baseball season. You're too busy to use it that time of year and that's when people want to be on boats."
"It's a steal. I wouldn't recommend it for a novice sailor if it wasn't such a bargain, Andy. We'll look at it. There's no obligation to buy. You won't find this kind of boat at this price anywhere and it could be gone tomorrow. They'll hold off on advertising the sale until I get back to them," Bobo said.
"Why would they sell it so cheap??" Andy asked.
"Bad economy. The owner picked this time to drop dead. His estate wants to unload it. You just happen to be asking about a boat at the right time. As soon as I saw it, I knew you needed to see it, Andy. Man would you look good sailing this sucker. I'd look good sailing it but my wife has other plans for my money," Bobo said.
"That's a lot of boat. I don't know," Andy said.
"I told George to advise you to buy it. We can go to Corpus Christi to get a close up view."
"How long?" Andy asked.
"Forty-eight foot. One man can sail it but it's more of a pleasure boat. You let your crew sail it and you drink your -- whatever you're drinking -- on the fantail and give orders."
"Yeah, I can see it all now," Andy said. "Turn left at the corner. I'd really sound like a sailor."
"Hardly any corners out there," Bobo said, but a lot of glorious water and the most beautiful horizon in the world. This is a 'be good to yourself' boat, Andy. You got what, a car, and isn't that for making commercials for Big Barney Bostic Autos? You didn't even pay for that. You've got more money than you want to keep laying around, son. You need this boat. I want a ride on this boat."
"Texas?" Andy said, not convinced he wanted a yacht that required a crew to get it away from the dock.
"The big well-armed state with the cowboys," George Kelly said. "We'll take the company jet. I'll write it off to investment opportunity if I don't get a commission for the sale. Won't cost you a cent to take a look see."
No it wouldn't, but Texas was a long way from Pittsburgh and I wasn't sure Andy wanted to go. I knew we'd talk about it when we were alone. These were Andy's handlers. Bobo had been coaching Pittsburgh's big hitters for decades and Andy was one of his boys. It was something like a father son relationship and Andy trusted Bo Bowers above anyone on his team.
George Kelly handled Andy's money. He was invested in Andy and the future was paved with gold if Andy's career continued. George wasn't going to do anything to violate Andy's trust. He also handled other Pittsburgh players and some of the club's investments. He was a straight arrow, who knew my name was on everything Andy owned.
Morris Bronson was Andy's agent. He kept Andy in the press and in the public eye, except when he didn't. He didn't in the off season, when Andy was home in Indiana. Morris arranged all of Andy's appearances and commercials, during the season. Once Andy left the ball field and the end of the season, he was unavailable and Morris passed on any offers or requests.
None of them knew the extent of Andy's relationship with me. It wasn't hard to figure out but their business was business and my relationship with Andy was none of their business. If they didn't know they were blind.
I stayed out of the conversation. This was Andy's deal and these were Andy's people. Andy would do his business and discuss it with me when we were together if he wasn't sure about what was the best thing to do.
After a meeting in Pittsburgh we boarded a Gulfstream 3 and flew to Texas. The plane was leased by Kelly's firm for "cleaning up odds and ends" without delay. It was obvious they thought a delay of even a few hours might see someone else making an offer on the boat.
Morris was also Bo Bower's agent. Bobo ran the deal past Morris before taking it to Andy. Both of them thought it would do him good to spend time on the water while his body healed. They knew the most about the deal, and that had me thinking, 'why not?'
I played ball in Louisville while Andy played ball in Pittsburgh and the little time we had together during baseball season wasn't spent entertaining the guys who we did business with. You could do all my business on the back of an envelope, but it wasn't so easy for Andy.
Andy had an investment manager, an accountant, an agent, and a tax attorney to keep his money his money. It was the first time I met any of them or heard about what Andy was really worth. We had everything we needed and never talked about money, but as Andy said, "We have money."
Boy did we ever. I knew the numbers went into seven figures in his second season, which was his first full season, spending over half the season in Indianapolis before Pittsburgh called him up.
Bobo was the sailor among us. Andy knew him best and trusted him most and he did what George thought was best in most instances. When the tax attorney did Andy's income tax, he double checked Andy's assets to be sure it was earning a reasonable amount of interest
It was all checked and double checked and until now, there were no major purchases, because the house had been bought with the original contract and signing bones. The club had backed up the deal, when Andy wanted the house free and clear.
Since then we'd lived on his monthly allowance and we never used all of it. My entire salary went into a checking account and I wrote checks to Mrs. Olson once yearly for my room and board and any extras I needed while in Louisville.
We'd been very happy being at home when we weren't constantly on the road playing ball. There was something about that lifestyle that had us staying close to the house most of our off season time. This would be the first time we did anything out of the ordinary. The times required some fun and relaxation for both of us. I was beginning to like the idea as we were on the way to see the boat.
Andy could buy this boat and one to keep it company. Talk had been that he'd sign a five year contract for something around forty million dollars, which didn't include incentives and bonuses. He didn't know how much his bonuses were from the previous season. It was just more money than Andy could deal with. He let other people protect his interests.
The most Andy had to say about it was, 'We got it.'
Having an opportunity to spend a little and at the same time make a good investment and give us some good times, after some hard times, was a good idea to me.
We all sat at a mahogany table to talk boats. The inside of the airplane was like a suite at the Four Seasons. There was wood paneling, wall to wall carpeting, book cases, a bar, and some very comfortable seats with seatbelts, but we sat in regular chairs at a table in the center of the room. The sound of the aircraft was minimal. It was nothing like coach.
"The boat is part of an estate that's being contested by a half dozen parties. These parties were all in business with the deceased. The estate needs to be liquidated as fast as possible, so they can get the money. If the executor took time to look inside the boat, he understood it was going to be difficult selling it anywhere near its true value.
"The man's business was oil. His partners had no interest in his toys. With so many partners, and with his property, homes, cars, and the boat being titled to his businesses, everyone wants it in cash. These kind of people want it yesterday. No single asset will add up to much money, but the lot will add up to a pile of cash for each of them, and that's the name of the game."
"Show me the money," Bobo said, downing his drink.
"Now I don't know the men involved in the liquidation of the estate, because Bobo got word of the yacht through a third party at the Houston franchise. One of the club owners is one of the partners. He told Bobo about the boat when the Houston manager mentioned Bobo was looking for a boat. Bobo called me after talking with Morris.
"Little sailboat is where we started. And now we are talking yacht. A little sailboat I can keep in the bathtub," I explained. "A yacht sounds like a big boat to me. I can't learn to sail the Queen Mary. I'm a shortstop," explained to some laughter.
"Mr. Do ... Do ... " he said and then looked at Andy for help.
"Just Do," Andy said. "We're not up tight assholes. We're country boys, but we know the difference between a sailboat and a yacht. So I figure we're talking investment rather than pleasure craft. Am I reading what you're telling me right? The disposition of this boat comes down to whether or not Do and I can manage it."
"You put it better than I could. We'll look her over and if it's too rich for your blood, well, it's a bargain. I'd hate to see some rich fart get it," George said.
"I am a rich asshole," Andy said. "I want to see it. I didn't like the sound of it at first but I'm thinking abut it."
"Don't forget old Bobo got you onto this deal. My wife may not allow me to buy this kind of a boat, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be more than willing to go out on it," Bobo said, draining his Black Jack over ice one more time.
* * * * * * * * *
The conversation took a sharp turn toward baseball. Pittsburgh had settled into a .500 season, after July. Their drive toward a pennant stalled and it was one of those seasons when the club couldn't get on a winning streak. It didn't have any long losing streaks either. It was a decent baseball season, but with results that were less than satisfying.
Bobo described the hitting and Morris talked about a new prospect for the pitching staff that was getting a lot of press. With three solid starters, another strong pitcher would beef up a pennant run. The power was lackluster with no mention of what made it that way. It was an objective view of a club everyone there but me knew inside out.
Andy added nothing to the conversation. He knew what Pittsburgh did that season. It made him sad that a team that looked to be pennant bound fell so far short of that goal. There was no blame, no fingers to be pointed. It was baseball and that's how baseball went some years.
"Do," Morris said. "That sailboat in your tub is a toy. The Lady Jane is an investment."
"If we invest, that name has got to go," I said, feeling a cold chill run up my back when I heard it.
* * * * * * * * *
I don't know how long we were in the air. It didn't seem like long. When we taxied over to the hanger, a long limo was waiting for us. A well dressed man much older than my father got out of the back, introduced himself, and we got inside for the ride to where the boat was docked.
"They'll take you out in the` gulf. We've put some food on for you and there is a bar. You can chat and look over the Lady Jane and they'll have you back before dark. I'll be here to take your money if you decide she's the boat you want."
We went up the dock and the engines were already running. Almost as quick as we went aboard, lines were tossed onto the dock and the boat began easing into the channel. We were all impressed at the size and how smooth it ran. We were all of a hundred feet from shore.
A man dressed all in white with one of those commodore's hats with all the gold piping on the shiny black bill came to show us all his teeth.
"Welcome aboard The Lady Jane, gentlemen. I am your captain, John Paul James."
"Had a lot of first names they used up on you, son," Bobo said, shaking his hand.
"We'll get along way better if you don't ever say the name of the boat again," I said. "This deal might depend on it. Why don't we just call it, the boat?" I suggested.
"Yes, sir, at your service. The boat is ready for your inspection. I can tell you all about… The Boat. I've been her… the captain for as long as she's… it's been in the water. I brought it here from the shipyard."
"No sails?" Andy asked. "They said sailboat. I hear engines."
"As you can see it has two masts and all the rigging required to send up full sails. The sails have never been taken out of their original packaging. After we brought it around from the shipyard, Mr. Braxton became ill. He only went out a few times. For all practical purpose, she… it's a new boat."
"You know what they're asking?" George asked.
"I know I have a contract that extends for seven more months. The two additional crew members are my hires to adequately operate the vessel and care for the needs of the passengers, and you are the one doing the buying?"
"I'm the man with the money," George said, tapping his briefcase. "That's all you need to know for now. We aren't sold yet, John Paul. What do you want to tell us about the boat we need to know? We would be grateful for your forthrightness."
"Mr. Braxton had gone around the bend if you ask me. That is a personal observation. He was sick but when he bought this, he was fine, or he looked fine. He bought a boat just like this one late last year. It was another cash deal, same shipyard, and I became his captain then. This year, not even a year, he wants another boat built, this boat. He trades in a boat that hasn't even had its trash can emptied yet, and he throws in a quarter of a million in cash, but the deal on paper shows it cost a quarter of a million. That was what I was told the asking price would be, but it's never been advertised. I keep track of such things, because I am under contract to the boat.
"I know yachts and you couldn't buy this yacht for twice the price anywhere that I know about that doesn't involve pirates. I don't know what wheeling and dealing was going on, but the way he bought this boat sounded weird to me.
"What else they were buying and selling, I can't tell you, but no one in their right mind does business the way he did it. I concluded he was senile and so accustomed to being in control, he never consulted anyone about the wisdom of what he was doing.
"He was dying and he didn't know that until he was at death's door but I don't know anymore. I never knew anything about his business. I captained his boat.
"I've already been paid. I'd like to remain the captain. She's a fine craft, hardly broken in. Still has the original tires," John Paul said. "There is one stumbling block I hate to mention. The interior is an eyesore. His taste left a bit to be desired."
Bobo laughed. George listened. Morris looked at the trim and how broad the boat was across the back. We could have probably gotten a regulation bowling alley back there.
"We have a man who is recovering from a broken arm. He wanted to sail. This is a bit more boat than he was looking for," George explained. "He needs to get the kind of exercise sailing might offer him. Be able to swim off the boat and in general get physical exercise.
"What can you do for him? The deal depends on him getting what he needs. Andy's buying the boat."
"Andy's thinking about buying the boat," Andy said.
"We can hang a moderate size sailboat across the back. It's a typical setup for a vessel this size. It drops right down in the water and you can sail to your hearts content. We're talking maybe an additional twenty thousand outlay if we look for a good deal. Market's depressed and people are giving away boats to get rid of the overhead," John Paul said.
"You could handle that, John Paul? Finding something that would fit the way you think would work?"
"Certainly. If you need a boat of any kind or anything that goes on a boat, I'm your man. This is the best pleasure boat I've ever been on once you get beyond the decor. I'd buy her if I had the cash. They, the estate people, have no idea how he came to have this boat for a quarter of a million. All those bean counters know is the bottom line. They are anxious to make a deal."
"I'm a bean counter, John Paul, but you're absolutely right. I get the impression they are looking for a quick sale."
"I didn't tell them anything about the vessel. Nothing like I just told you. They don't really care and they didn't ask. My loyalty will go with the buyer. I'll work for him."
"Someone said there's a bar?" Bobo asked.
"Yes, sir, just inside the salon. I'll send one of the mates to serve you," John Paul said.
"No, no," Bobo said. "Don't want no serving. Point me to the bottles and I'll manage, son. I know my way around a bar."
Morris laughed and John Paul walked us to the glassed entryway into the salon. Sliding the door to one side, he indicated for us to go inside.
It was all very shiny with wood trim and thick carpets. There were mirrors and lots of glass. It could have been a scaled down whore house. It had no appeal and the former owner had little or no taste, except when it came to stocking his bar, which got the attention of two in our party.
Bobo and Morris didn't mind the booze. They went straight for the bar to continue their party.
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