I-Cub caper cost Mackanin
Ill-conceived dartboard was 'straw that broke the camel's back' when new Reds manager was fired by Chicago in '89.
By RANDY PETERSON
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
July 3, 2007
An untimely lack of respect by a player in the Iowa Cubs' clubhouse may have once cost the new Cincinnati Reds manager his job.
Pete Mackanin, who manages the team tonight against San Francisco after being named Sunday to replace fired Jerry Narron for the remainder of the season, was an innocent bystander to the Great Dartboard Caper when he managed the Iowa Cubs in 1989.
"And it probably was the straw that broke the camel's back when Pete ended up getting fired at the end of that season," Iowa Cubs general manager Sam Bernabe recalled Monday.
A fan sent demoted pitching prospect Les Lancaster a dartboard just before the Iowa Cubs would leave for a road trip that preceded an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs.
The dartboard had photos of Chicago Cubs manager Don Zimmer, general manager Jim Frey and coaches Joe Altobelli, Chuck Cottier and Dick Pole - along with off-color remarks about each.
"Somebody was supposed to get rid of it while we were on the road," Lancaster said at the time. "They didn't."
Bad timing followed: The Iowa Cubs returned from the road trip May 25, the day the Cubs-Cubs exhibition game was set for Des Moines.
As luck would have it, the Chicago Cubs arrived in Des Moines first - before Lancaster could notice the dartboard hadn't been removed. As Mackanin said then: "I didn't know the dartboard was there, but that's no excuse - a manager should be in charge of his clubhouse."
"Zim was really upset because there were a billion holes in it," catcher Rick Wrona said the next day. "The board was up probably a day before we left to go on the road. I know that Pete didn't have any wind of it."
Altobelli discovered the board, and showed it to Zimmer. Also wanting to show Frey, back in Chicago, the angry Zimmer ordered it packed with the equipment.
Something happened en route to the airport. The dartboard was missing.
"The Cubs got to the plane after the game, and Zimmer went to look for the dartboard," Bernabe said. "He couldn't find it, and he swore up and down that the (chartered) plane was not leaving until the dartboard was found."
Bernabe and his people eventually discovered the dartboard hidden in the clubhouse.
"Someone thought they were doing someone a favor by keeping the dartboard from making the trip," Bernabe said. "The plane waited at the airport for about an hour before we finally got it out there to them."