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Would you please leave?

June 19, 2008 - John Mehno

The New York Mets' sloppy handling of manager Willie Randolph's dismissal got me thinking about firing stories.

I once worked at a radio station where a DJ was fired during his show. The general manager was anxious to get his weekend started, so he poked his head in the studio door and asked the DJ to stop by his office during the news. Clueless DJ heads down to the office, gets the bad news. He's told he doesn't have to finish his show, it's taken care of and he'll get his last check in the mail. The poor guy goes back to the studio to grab his belongings, and there's the part-time weekend girl behind the console, doing the last hour of his show.

The Penguins had a 2-for-1 in 1989, canning both coach Gene Ubriaco and general manager Tony Esposito on the same day. Team president Paul Martha stopped by the PR office to alert the people there that they'd need to make calls to announce a mid-morning press conference. He didn't tell them what it was about. Next thing anyone knew, Esposito came into the PR office and said, "Anybody have a cardboard box?"

Larry Shepard was managing the Pirates in 1969 when the team came home for the last week of the season. Shepard kept asking GM Joe L. Brown if he was coming back. Brown said finish this week, and we'll talk about it. Shepard said he wanted the answer then. OK, Brown told him, you're not coming back. And now you don't even have to worry about finishing this week. Coach Alex Grammas managed the team for the last five games.

Ted Simmons was the Pirates' GM in 1993 and found himself in frequent disagreement with manager Jim Leyland. Simmons had a heart attack, which gave team president Mark Sauer the opportunity to make a change. Sauer convinced Simmons to announce his resignation for health reasons. Simmons had to borrow a Pirates jacket from the clubhouse because he was wearing a T-shirt advertising a restaurant. Sauer didn't think that was appropriate for an executive's farewell press conference.

Cam Bonifay lingered at PNC Park for a week after his ouster in 2001, which made some people uneasy. It seemed like he was going out of his way to show there were no hard feelings. Contrast that with Gene Lamont who, several years gone from Pittsburgh, told a Pirates employee that he wanted to be removed from the mailing list for the Pirates bi-annual alumni newsletter.

On rare occasions it's as smooth as Chuck Tanner's departure was after the 1985 season. He met with the new owners and they agreed to part. Tanner wound up with a sweet deal in Atlanta and the Pirates hired Jim Leyland. Tanner's parting words were, "They didn't want me, and I didn't want them."

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