RITES OF SPRING: BASEBALL STYLE
As the symphony of baseball swung into its second month, the pitching theme reached an artful peak. Sad Sam Jones, a 29-year-old right-hander picked up by the Chicago Cubs in the trade which sent Ralph Kiner to Cleveland, fired a no-hitter against Pittsburgh's version of the whiz kids. Munching a single toothpick throughout the game (he usually consumes seven or eight), Jones gave up seven walks, struck out six to win 4-0 and record the 93rd no-hitter since 1900. Jones came close to being pulled out of the game in the ninth inning when he walked the first three Pirates to face him. After a conference with Manager Stan Hack, however, he fanned the side.
Some sharp contrapuntal crescendos of booming bats were offered to offset the beguiling pitching themes (there have been three one-hitters in addition to Jones's magnum opus). The New York Yankees' aging boy wonder Mickey Mantle became the 86th player in the major leagues to hit three home runs in one game, and Ted Williams, with his divorce settlement arranged, could afford to return to play for the Boston Red Sox (below right).
Some sideline notes of the symphony were a variety of citations to Manager Walter Alston of the far-front-running Brooklyn Dodgers and Dodger Jackie Robinson (below left). Backing up the entire orchestration were the smashing climaxes between catcher and base runner at the pay-off position of home plate as recorded in the fine press photographs on pages 28 and 29.
May 22, 1955
WITH BASES LOADED IN THE NINTH INNING SAM JONES OF CHICAGO CIBS THROWS HARD TO PROTECT SUCCESSFULLY NO-HITTER OF WHICH HE WAS UNAWARE UNTIL TEAMMATES MOBBED HIM AFTER FINAL OUT. SOMEWHAT WILD IN BEGINNING, JONES'S CURVE WAS MAGNIFICENT AT GAME'S END
Citations go to Dodger Manager Walter Alston, honored by National Pickle Packers Association "for getting out of the biggest pickle of the year," and Jackie Robinson, who was sued for $40,000 by a Milwaukee couple struck by Robinson's flying bat last year.
Slugger Mickey Mantle poses with bats, indicating two home runs hit left-handed, one right-handed against Detroit. Ted Williams practices bunting after joining the Boston Red Sox for an estimated $80,000. Williams expects to be ready after a week.
...BASEBALL'S MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR CATCHERS
Rolling slide by Jim Finigan of the Kansas City Athletics is blocked by Hal Smith of the Baltimore Orioles, who puts the ball on Finigan. The Athletics' third baseman tried to score on foul flyout.
Stand-up charge by Dodger Pee Wee Reese fails to jar ball loose from Cub Catcher Harry Chiti. Reese was doubled on a throw by Outfielder Jim King.
Desperation slide by Bill Virdon, St. Louis Cardinal outfielder, fails to evade tag by Ray Katt, New York Giant catcher. Virdon attempted to score from first on Musial's double, but Alvin Dark relayed Willie Mays's throw in time.
Forceout on Phillie Second Baseman Bobby Morgan is made by Catcher Bill Sarni of Cardinals. With the bases loaded, Phillie Outfielder Del Ennis grounded to Shortstop Alex Grammas, who made backhand stop and threw to Sarni. Catcher quickly yanked his foot away to avoid being spiked.
Head-first slide by Andy Pafko of the Milwaukee Braves is frustrated by young Catcher Jack Shepard of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Inexperienced rookie First Baseman J. W. Porter of the Detroit Tigers interferes with Catcher Bob Wilson. Both players went after pop-up hit by Hank Bauer of the New York Yankees, and Porter, normally an outfielder, actually made the catch.
A CHAMPION IN TROUBLE
By the end of the week the World's Champion New York Giants had won only 15 games, had lost 13. Newspaper stories said Manager Leo Durocher was feuding with Club Owner Horace Stoneham. Perhaps the stories were true; perhaps they were not (Durocher denied them). But one thing was obvious: the most controversial figure in baseball was back in his accustomed position, squarely on the spot. As these pictures indicate, Leo Durocher's course—like that of true love—has never been a smooth one. But there was more to the small-town Durocher boy than the '20s "zoot suit" he wore to Atlanta, just as there is more to the "dandy little manager" than his won-and-lost record.
Batting stance fooled nobody when Durocher came up to Yankees from Hartford in 1925. A good glove man, Leo's lifetime batting average is a puny .247.
Asnappy dresser, Durocher looked "sharp" even when taking train for the minors at Atlanta.
A pro at pool, Leo wangled invitation to play in World Pocket Billiard Championships in 1929.
Fond of cards, Leo played with Dizzy Dean (left) and Lon Warneke (center) of Cardinal Gashouse Gang.
Pugnacious, Leo has never lost umpire baiting ability.
Anti-Jim crow, Durocher supported Jackie Robinson in try for big-league job.
His third wife, Laraine Day, brought polish to her raucous husband and made Durocher a member of respectable Hollywood society.
Series triumph in 1954 brought congratulations from old teammate Frank Frisch to Leo and his adopted son Chris.
FOR THE REAL STORY OF LEO DUROCHER
...Turn the page to the first part of Robert Shaplen's three-part study of the Massachusetts French Canadian who was good field, no hit, all gall. Leo Durocher, to paraphrase Churchill, is a myth wrapped in a legend. For the first time the facts and fancies are separated and put in historical context. The personality which alternately charms and antagonizes, the skills which bring victory one season and the emotions which produce disaster the next are trenchantly described. Leo Durocher is many things to many men—and women. All his nine lives begin on page 32.