"I tried to hold out one year, and I made the fatal mistake of going down to spring training, kind of hanging on the fence watching the guys work out," Blass said.
"To put it quite simply, he was one of the classiest guys that I ever ran across in the game," said Blass, who pitched the Pirates to a Game 7 victory over Baltimore in the 1971 World Series. "Straight up, straight-on honest with you, a very good judge of talent. ... I was not a big bonus baby, I was not a big prospect. But he cared about me from day one, and that never ended."