Tuesday, February 26, 2002

RADEL: Marge Schott

Former Reds owner discusses her 3 great loves

By Cliff Radel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In your heart, you know she's right.

        When Marge Schott talks about children, baseball and dogs, there can be no doubt.

        She loves them all.

        • “The future of this country is the children,” she said. So, she's giving $500,000 to St. Ursula Academy for a new gym.

        • Major League Baseball's recent controversies made the 73-year-old former Reds chief executive shake her head.

        “You worry about the game's future and the country,” she said, reacting to baseball's attempt to close two teams and a conflict-of-interest loan from the commissioner to another team owner.

        “Baseball is America.”

        • She misses Schottzie 02. Her beloved 8-year-old St. Bernard died Oct. 6.

        Marge buried her dog “with a Reds hat on her head. I threw a replica of the 1990 World Series ring in her grave.”

        Losing Schottzie 02 broke her heart. “I don't know if there'll be a Schottzie 03.”

        Marge talked about her three loves in life recently at her office, one flight up from the Schott Buick showroom in Norwood.

        Outside, traffic zipped along Montgomery Road. Inside, customers browsed.

        Upstairs, Marge fiddled with Reds souvenirs — baseball cards and a commemorative 1869 team photo — from her nearly 15-year reign as the club's chief owner.

        The souvenirs shared desk space with an inhaler. “Got a nasty cough, honey. Won't go away.”

        Nearby sat a frequently dipped-into pack of Carltons.

        Marge spoke first about her latest gift to St. Ursula. In 2000, she gave $1 million to the all-girls school for a classroom facility.

        “But they still didn't have a gym. So, early this year, I thought, I'm going for it.”

        She wrote “a Schottzie letter” to the school. Using such phrases as “doggone it” and “make no bones about it,” she noted St. Ursula's need for a gym. Attached was a check for $500,000.

        Marge has already picked out the gym's name.

        “One name that is going to be on the gym is our sports dog, Schottzie 02,” she said.

        “When I ran the Reds, she was baseball's only living mascot. I was the only female owner.”

        Both made headlines. Marge's insensitive remarks put her in the hot seat. In 1999, she was forced to sell her majority stake in the Reds by Major League Baseball, run by team owners she dubbed, “the good old boys club.”

        She lives with the satisfaction of knowing that events in baseball over the past few months have validated her nickname for the owners. Their club decides who must abide by the rules and who gets a free pass.

        She recalled owners' meetings where “they would be eating breakfast or lunch.” No one asked her to pull up a chair. “I would end up sitting with the help.”

        She won't say, “I told you so,” about this group.

        But she noted that they gave her an idea for the title of her planned autobiography: Lady, What Are You Doin' Here?

        “Baseball is a mess, sweetie,” she said. The Reds' biggest former fan is unsure how many games she'll attend during Cinergy Field's final season.

        “I just don't know, honey.”

        The further she gets from baseball, the better for Marge and the community.

        Beginning her third season in exile from the team-owner ranks, she no longer worries about wasting a fortune signing some third-rate outfielder.

        She can spread her money around. Help kids. Give joy. And see it pay dividends.

        “You feel good, honey,” she said, “making people happy.”

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340; e-mail cradel@enquirer.com.


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