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Enos Is Someone to Shout About : Lasorda the Loud Finally Meets His Match in Cabell the Yell

August 13, 1985|STEVE SPRINGER | Times Staff Writer

Tom Lasorda has been beaten. He has even been outmanaged on occasion. But he has seldom been outtalked.

You can say what you want about the Dodger manager, but then you'd better be prepared to duck. He loves nothing better than a war of words.

Which is why Enos Cabell always fascinated him.

Cabell loved nothing better than to lay down a barrage of four-letter words and match Lasorda, adjective for adjective, insult for insult.

Hunched over in his defensive stance at third base for the Houston Astros, Cabell peered into the Los Angeles dugout on one occasion and yelled: "I'd rather beat you guys than eat when I'm hungry."

Lasorda, not to be outdone, yelled back, "I'd rather beat you than eat a plate of linguini."

Which just shows the extremes to which Cabell drove Lasorda.

"I've been screaming at them (the Dodgers) for years," Cabell said of his pre-Dodger days. "Lasorda has called me just about every name in the book.

"I remember one time we had J.R. Richard going against the Dodgers. I told Lasorda, 'You wait, he's going to throw a shutout against you.' He did. When I saw Lasorda the next day, I said, 'I told you. Now you're in trouble again because (Ken) Forsch is pitching.' He also won."

That was four to five years ago when the Astros won quite a bit.

And always, it seemed, Cabell was in the middle.

"Once, the two teams were playing, and there were some bad feelings, I remember, involving Cesar Cedeno and Reggie Smith," Cabell said. "So what happened? They hit me with a pitch. I went out to the mound, Ken Brett was pitching, and we had a pretty good fight. It lasted 20 to 25 minutes."

Did he get to face his old antagonist, Lasorda?

"No," Cabell said, laughing. "There was a big pileup on the field, and I wound up on the bottom."

But he remained near the top of Lasorda's most-admired list.

"It's like any other field," Lasorda said. "If you're a salesman, and another guy beats you to a sale, you don't like the guy. It's the guy you beat that you like.

"One time I'd been hollering at him (Cabell) and (Dodger coach Joe) Amalfitano said, 'You'd love to have the guy playing for you.' I said, 'Damn right.' (Leo) Durocher was the same way. He'd always want the guys who gave him the roughest time."

Besides, Cabell in Los Angeles would have been a natural. He went to school here, graduating from Harbor Community College as an all-conference pick in baseball. He lives here in the off-season, in Anaheim Hills, and has "about 100 cousins" in the area. He even has one with the Dodgers, outfielder Ken Landreaux.

The Dodgers even tried to get Cabell. He was nearly obtained for Candy Maldonado in the spring.

When that deal fell through, the Dodgers got involved in negotiations to get a third baseman they had long sought, Buddy Bell of the Texas Rangers.

Last month, though, when it became obvious that the price for Bell was more than the Dodgers wanted to pay, Lasorda finally got his wish. The Dodgers gave up third baseman German Rivera and Rafael Montalvo, a Triple-A relief pitcher, and Cabell, 35, became a Dodger.

"I was kind of happy and kind of sad," Cabell said of the trade. "I wanted to stay, but I wasn't playing that much anymore. They were playing the kids. So I asked for the trade. I wanted to come home."

Whenever Cabell wanted to make a request of Houston management, he had a neat little arrangement. All he had to do was lean over in his golf cart and tap the guy next to him. He and owner John McMullen of the Astros are buddies. Honest-to-goodness buddies. Golf-playing, high-fiving buddies.

"He took a liking to me because I never lied to him," Cabell said. "Everything I said to him always came from the heart. When he had questions, he would call and ask me because he knew I'd never lie. If I thought he was wrong, I'd tell him, 'You messed up.'

"We'd play golf. We'd hit and talk baseball. I'd ask him questions about the sport, and he always had the right answers. I found out he knew a little bit about the game.

"He was not born with money. He had to work hard to get it and he knew some things. He taught me a lot about life. If you can't improve yourself, you've got to find somebody else who can."

Though he wanted the trade, Cabell did not want it badly enough to cross his friend.

"If he (McMullen) would have said, no, I would not have come," Cabell said.

But he did come, in his 14th major league season. The Dodgers are his fifth club, and he had two separate tours of duty with Houston. He started with Baltimore in 1972. In 1975, he moved to Houston, where he spent six years. Then came a season in San Francisco and two in Detroit before he returned to the Astros in 1984, signing as a free agent.

He has not only been around the league, but around the diamond as well. During the last six weeks of the '74 season, he played six positions for the Orioles, helping the club to a divisional title.

"He can play third for us, first, the outfield or pinch-hit," Lasorda said. "He's the kind of guy you enjoy having around."

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