When Pat Jordan went to do a story on Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey and his wife, Cyndy, for Inside Sports in 1980, he never expected trouble. After the story appeared, the Garveys sued Jordan and the magazine, and though the suit was eventually settled—and though the Garveys would soon be divorced—Jordan for a time had difficulty finding work. By the end of the decade, though, it was Mr. Clean's reputation that had been damaged, the details of his baroque romantic life spilling out in lawsuit after lawsuit.
Below is the section of "Trouble in Paradise" that caused a stir. In it, Cyndy Garvey—who wound up leaving Garvey for composer Marvin Hamlisch, though she would later claim that Garvey had given her away to Hamlisch after a two-hour negotiation—talks about the difficulties of being the wife of a star baseball player. After the story was published, but before the family's lawsuit, Cyndy wrote a letter thanking Jordan, calling him her therapist.
"My husband is a very warm, gentle, understanding, considerate…father. His controlled traits pay off with our children," she says. The wife, dressed in a peach-colored, velour jogging suit, is sitting cross-legged on the print sofa in the den of her house. A bearded man in jeans is sitting in a chair beside her. He is leaning towards her, his elbows on his knees, his hands folded in front of him. There is a tape recorder on the coffee table in front of her, the microphone aimed at her. She does not look at the microphone as she speaks, nor does she look at the man to her left. She stares straight ahead, through unseeing eyes, as she speaks in her brusque, whiny, yet absolutely unemotional voice.
"We don't talk baseball or my show, anymore," she says. "Just the children. We're not good in certain areas. I'm not as affectionate as I used to be and he, he's so jumbled up in his career and his outside interests…When I say, 'Let's talk about it,' he says, 'Whoa! Is this gonna be the same old stuff? How unhappy you are?' I say, 'Oh, forget it, then!' Maybe relationships are just bound to deteriorate gradually, I don't know? Don't get me wrong, we're not serving papers, or anything. It's just…I wonder, are marriages ideal anymore? I mean, I'm out here in the land of fantasy and I see relationships come and go and I don't know whether or not it's worth it to cash in on something stable in order to find something more fulfilling. That's why I want to try everything to make this thing work. During the off-season we're going to Europe. I really hope in the next year my husband can develop to keep my interest. I want to see if what I fell in love with is still there…
"Sometimes, though, I feel I'm banging my head against the wall. I'm trying to get him to see other possibilities, that the way he sees things is not the only way. But he's so satisfied with the way he is. He's stayed the same all these years. He does everything the way people wish they could do them. He can't break that mold. It's really him. He's a nice guy. He gives and all, but…ah, I want electricity, a spark, some idiosyncrasy…Now catch this act. It was so stupid. A few days ago we had three hours to ourselves. We're driving in the car. He says to me, 'Where do you want to go to eat?' I mean, I'd love my man to say, 'I'm taking you here and then back home to make love.' Now, I could have said that, but it wouldn't be the same. I want him to be smart enough to arrange his meetings around me. I don't want him to have to be told. I don't want to teach him anymore. Oh, he tries, but he can't be something he's not. He has no interests other than baseball. He doesn't understand music, or art. Those LeRoy Neiman prints? They all look alike to me. And he's not a sexual guy. Sometimes he teases me. He walks around the house with this great body, and when I try to focus love and attention on it, it's not there. I'm a girl who needs a regular sex life…I've reached the point where I don't care anymore. Then again, maybe it's me? Maybe it's not his problem, but mine? Maybe I haven't told him exactly what I want? Maybe this will pass and I'm just going through a cycle? Sometimes I think I'm distorted, that what I want can never be. I told my husband he should have married another girl. I don't want to sell him short. I don't want to downgrade him; he has no choice because of the structures of this sport. When we have our little fights, I say, 'How do you fight with a sport?' How do you do that?
"I'm open now, because I'm angry. I'm tired of that Ken and Barbie shit. I never questioned before. I was always busy with the children. The suburbs drove me nuts. I had to get out. That's why I went back to work. Maybe my job will be a way out. I don't want to give up what I've got unless I can go to something else. I don't want to drag my kids around during my indecision. If I can tolerate it, if I can live within the confines of this marriage, I'll stay. I'm not wanting for anything. It's convenient. No, it's not even that. That's not enough. Maybe some miracle happens to help you make up your mind? Sometimes I wonder if I met someone would a relationship develop. I haven't had any affairs yet, but I wonder what it would be like. Someone who is his own man. I'm untapped. No one touches me. There's no mentor in my life. Someone to tell me to shut up. I get so depressed. I have too much time to think. What am I doing here? Life is going on around me and I'm not participating. My security is to go out and then come back. I can't keep doing this. Everyone tells me how lucky I am. If I divorced my husband I'd have to get out of town. He's a god here. Where would I go without my husband? Do you know what a price it is to be told that? A real kick. I mean, just because he doesn't beat me or anything, it doesn't mean. . . ."
She falls silent for a moment. She is still staring straight ahead. Throughout her monologue, the tone in her voice has remained constant. Brusque. Unemotional. Confusing to her listener. How can she reveal such intimacies without the nuances of felt emotion? Does she feel nothing? Or is it simply that there is some strange lack in her, some inability to communicate her deepest emotions in conventional ways? She does not cry. Her voice does not falter. Her expression never varies. In fact, at times, she flashes her brittle smile precisely at that moment one expects her to cry. She reveals everything—trivialities and intimacies—on the same note. It is the single note of a Public Persona, of one who is used to smiling in front of a camera, or the public, no matter what the mood of the moment may be. It is, as if her nature had been formed in some Charm School where she was taught always to smile, to be nice, to express herself in a pleasant way. Now, at thirty, when she is feeling unpleasant emotions, she knows of no other way to express them. It is her curse. She will always be misread. She will always appear to be cool, aloof, unfeeling, no matter how deeply she feels. She is like her husband. Their style will always be misconstrued as a lack of substance.
She begins again. "Sometimes, half-kiddingly, I say to my husband, 'If I ever left you, would you always be my good friend?' He says, 'No,' and then a little later, 'O.K.' He's like a brother to me. What I'm hoping—if I don't get involved with a lover somewhere—is that…I'm going to have to…" She falls silent again. She is still staring straight ahead. Her face still has that perfectly composed look, only now; she is trying very hard not to cry. She forces back her tears with a weak laugh and a brittle smile before she can continue, "…we'll have to be good friends for awhile…maybe we can…I mean, sometimes, I'll catch a vignette, it's like I'm wearing 3D glasses, and suddenly I'll see something we're doing together, and it's all right again. Maybe we're at a show, or playing tennis, and I'll say to myself, 'Oh, that's it! That's fine!' But then it goes away and a few nights later I'm sitting home alone, crying, thinking, is this the future for me? To gut it out…"
[Images via Inside Sports]