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Gone Fishin’: How One Producer Tracked Down a League-Changing Moment (2013)
When Jeff Ausiello, MLB features producer at ESPN, was doing research for a piece on the history of the designated hitter, he kept finding the name of Phillies General Manager Bill Giles. Giles was quoted saying a National League designated hitter vote was altered because the Phillies owner at the time, Ruly Carpenter, was on a fishing trip. As Ausiello looked deeper, he found the only other detail mentioned about the rumored trip was the date, which varied in each report – some said 1979, others had 1980 and still more had 1981.
A skeptical and curious Ausiello continued to look into the story and discovered that the last time the National League had voted on the hotly-contested designated hitter topic was August 1980. He spoke on the phone with Giles and Carpenter, who confirmed the fishing trip.
As his research went on, Ausiello reached out and spoke with every other living owner or representative who was present that day, even the secretary who read back the minutes. The hardest person to track down was former Cardinals General Manager John Claiborne, who was the driving force behind the movement to vote in the DH in the National League. Ausiello found contact information for a person he thought might be Claiborne’s son, left a message, and a month later received a call from Claiborne.
Armed with his research, Ausiello produced the 2013 feature below, which tells the story of how one man’s fishing trip changed the fate of the DH in the National League.
Check out previous This Is 30 entries below.
This Is 30: April 2019