Schott both tough and loving

Marge Schott deeply loved baseball, animals and Cincinnati. She was motherly and miserly, but never boring.

Originally Published: March 2, 2004
By Tim Kurkjian | ESPN The Magazine

Marge Schott called everyone "honey.'' She loved children, perhaps because she never was able to have them. She loved animals; she once said that elephants don't ask for raises. She especially loved her dogs, specifically her St. Bernard, Schottzie, who had an air-conditioned office at Riverfront Stadium. Mrs. Schott kept bags of her dogs' hair long after they had died.

Marge Schott
Schott

Mrs. Schott died Tuesday at age 75.

A sixth-generation native, Marge Schott loved Cincinnati. In July 1985, she became the president and CEO of the Reds, the hometown team that she owned for 15 years -- part of that time, she was the only female owner in the game. She usually sat in the stands, among the people, and during her ownership tenure Reds' ticket and concession prices were among the lowest in baseball. She didn't know Jackie Robinson from Brooks Robinson, but her 1990 Reds did win the World Series.

Still, she will be remembered more for being suspended twice by Major League Baseball -- in 1993, and again from June 1996 to the end of 1998 -- for racial and ethnic slurs. She insulted gays, blacks and Jews. A third generation German-American, she had a Nazi armband in her drawer. She once said of Hitler, "he was OK at the beginning, he just went too far.''

She went too far in her penurious ways with employees. In 1991, she made her general manager, Bob Quinn, pay his way to the All-Star Game. She refused to post out-of-town games on the scoreboard at Riverfront Stadium because the service cost $350 a month. She charged Reds manager Lou Piniella for three bats that he had signed and donated to a local charity.

Motherly and miserly, caring and disparaging, Mrs. Schott was never boring. And life was never easy after the death in 1968 of her husband, Charley, who left her car dealerships among his business empire. She once said, "I'm best when I'm battling.'' Now the battle is over.

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to Baseball Tonight. E-mail tim.kurkjian@espnmag.com.

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