The Detroit Tigers recently fired 72-year-old Charles...


The Detroit Tigers recently fired 72-year-old Charles F. "Rip" Collins, a former batboy who for years has presided over the visiting team's clubhouse as host and custodian. This has provoked a debate there between Tiger traditionalists and the club's new management almost as bitter as the one last year, when veteran (and ex-Oriole broadcaster) Ernie Harwell was fired as the team's radio announcer.

A colleague who pays close attention to Detroit baseball called this to our attention, "not because you should take sides, but because you might be interested in something Rip Collins said in his valedictory.

"We kept the place first class [said Collins]. Soap, shave, cream, razors, clean towels. We washed their dirty socks, underwear and uniforms every day. I put in a catered hot meal spread after every night game, stuff like lasagna and meat loaf or tenderloin tips with potatoes and vegetables. And there's juice and soft drinks, too.

"We used to supply the guys with beer and cigarettes and snuff -- before Bo Schembechler [Tigers' president] took over and decided to ban alcohol and tobacco products from all of the Tigers' athletic facilities. The out-of-town players raised hell with me over that, I'll tell you. And a few of them even cut back their tips. But I explained to them that it wasn't my rule, it was Bo's.

"Some guys just want a sandwich or a beer. George Brett never drank, but he always gave me $300 on getaway day, when the team was leaving town. Frank Howard always gave me a check at the start of the season because he didn't want to be bothered. Billy Martin was a big tipper. Cal Ripken Jr. used to give me $160 for a series, but when Bo cut off the beer, he cut it back to a hundred bucks."

Say it ain't so, Cal!

Surely he meant milk!

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