Sunday, June 16, 1996
This sounds like a job for Super Charlie

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Probably a few thousand people have thought of this already. But just in case they haven't, I'd like to insist that Charlie Mechem run the Reds.

That might sound kind of pushy, especially to Charlie. I haven't asked him whether he'd be interested because I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be. It's not as though he needs the work.

Or the headache of dealing with you-know-who.

Charles Stanley Mechem Jr. made his bones around here as chief of Taft Broadcasting, transforming it to Great American Broadcasting. He built Kings Island, bought good properties and moved into cable television. Besides the requisite fund-raisers and committees, he worked on projects that were time-consuming and thankless - stuff for his church, his kids' schools.

After he retired from Taft at the age of 60, he took over a moribund Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), traveling nearly full time to rescue sponsors and lend personal support to players. He logged 3 million miles with Delta. Think of all the peanuts he must have eaten while he was chasing around the country marketing an outfit everybody else thought was dead.

''The LPGA is light years ahead of where it was, in terms of purses, events, television exposure and self-esteem,'' said Golfweek magazine. ''The LPGA was fortunate to have found Charlie Mechem in its time of need.''

Need? Need?! Don't tell us about need. Cincinnati has become a punch line. We don't just need somebody to run the baseball team. We need somebody to give us back our reputation.

Choosing a leader

According to the statement released Wednesday by Major League Baseball, after an interim of 60 days or so, ''Mrs. Schott, in conjunction with National League President Leonard S. Coleman, will search to find a mutually agreeable managing executive to run the day-to-day operation through the 1998 season.''

Well, I don't know how much Mr. Leonard S. Coleman knows about Mrs. Schott's hiring practices, but before he drags any candidates out for her to be mutually agreeable about, he'd better check to see that they're not chasing around with any ''cutesy poos.'' It might help if they're WASPs and don't wear earrings.

So far, Pirates President Mark Sauer and former Angels President Richard M. Brown have been mentioned, along with former Reds President Dick Wagner. I don't know about the other two, but Marge wouldn't spit on Dick Wagner's head if his hair were on fire.

Mr. Mechem, by the way, has been married to the same woman since 1952, has three children and two grandchildren, graduated Yale Law School and was a captain in the Army. Run that resume by Mrs. Schott and see what happens, Mr. Coleman.

Fighting dirty

Marge would love Charlie Mechem. Everybody does. ''I've never seen anybody better at building consensus,'' says Teri Gasper, a Chamber of Commerce vice president who worked with him at Taft and the LPGA. Wouldn't that be a nice quality to have around the table when it comes time to make some real decisions about the stadiums?

A key player in Luxottica's complex buyout last year of U.S. Shoe, Mr. Mechem became chairman of Cincinnati Bell in April after resigning from the LPGA. He could run a baseball team - especially one that already has Jim Bowden - with his eyes closed.

And in case anybody cares about this, he also has the strength to keep Marge out of operations and the grace not to rub her nose in it.

So those are all the reasons why the Reds could use Charlie Mechem, but I can't think of any reason why he should take the job. We may have to put pressure on him, fight dirty. Let's tell him that Cincinnati needs him.

That has always worked before.

Laura Pulfer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM) and is a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.