On Thursday morning’s “Bernie Show” we were joined by Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. to talk about Opening Day and a variety of topics.
My show partner Michelle Smallmon asked DeWitt about Tommy Pham’s profanity-filled tirade against Cardinals’ management in an interview with SI.com. The Cardinals’ intense outfielder complained of his history of being overlooked and disrespected by the team’s front office.
What did DeWitt think of Pham’s hostile tone and blistering criticism?
DeWitt was gracious.
“It was sort of classic Tommy, he’s his own man, he’s outspoken, he’s went through a lot to get where he is,” DeWitt said. “He certainly had his moments in the minor leagues of being a very good prospect and he was hurt by injuries over time and his eyesight was an issue, so he’s had to fight a lot of things that a lot of players don’t. The ones who just come in and perform and are healthy all the way through, it’s a little different story. He’s battled back and he’s got that grit and determination, and I think that showed up in the story when he talks about his background.
“It’s interesting because I remember when he was drafted that was in era when if teams went over slot, the commissioner had a rule that you had to check in with the Labor Relations Department and explain why you thought this player was worth more than the slot value was, and on occasion they’d say you should talk to the Commissioner.
“I actually did, I called Bud (Selig), at that time, and I said we have a kid Tommy Pham, he’s a very athletic shortstop, and we think he’s going to be a good player, he’s a high school player and we’re going to have to pay more than slot to get him. He said ‘go ahead’ not that he needed to say go ahead because we were going to do it, so I do remember that and of course he converted to the outfield and became an excellent outfielder.”
DeWitt said he is “rooting” for Pham’s success.
“He’s a great athlete, he’s got all the tools, and I know it was frustrating for him to go up and down but he battled through it,” DeWitt said. “And let’s just hope he stays healthy and continues to do what he does because he had a wonderful year last year and he’s off to a great start this year.
“I am rooting for him and I’m counting on him, and to be honest I’ve got a good relationship with Tommy. We’re very cordial, he’s never said one thing about ‘the organization that hasn’t been fair to me’ or anything, but I know when he was coming up through the minors he had conversations that he (later) pointed out in the (SI) story.”