Calvin Griffith inherited the Senators from Clark Griffith, the "Old Fox," one of the shrewdest men in baseball history. Cal's shown a lot of energy since taking over but he hasn't had much luck. His manager, the loquacious Charley Dressen, is vastly experienced in baseball (managed Cincinnati and Brooklyn, latter to two pennants). Charley's coaches include Old Dodger Cookie Lavagetto and tough Ellis Clary. Boom-Boom Beck helps Dressen with the pitching staff.
ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S SENATORS
Senators have two low-average but powerful sluggers in Roy Sievers and Jim Lemon, and it's a good thing they do. They also have steady hitter in cheerful Pete Runnels, a versatile ballplayer who shifted around infield and finally ended up as first baseman. There's Veteran Eddie Yost at third, who has uncanny ability for making pitchers walk him, despite his .231 average; three fairly good catchers in Lou Berberet, Clint Courtney, Ed Fitzgerald; one superb starting pitcher, name of Chuck Stobbs, and one good relief pitcher, name of Bud Byerly.
Poor fielding and awful pitching. If it weren't for Stobbs (15-15, 3.60 earned run average) and Byerly (2.94 earned run average), Washington pitching staff would have established all sorts of records for absolute futility. Dressen prides himself on ability as instructor of pitching, but performance of Washington hurlers is not good testimonial, to put it mildly. Even when fine work turned in by Stobbs and Byerly is included in statistics, Senators' pitching staff had combined earned run average of 5.33 per game, which is almost unbelievably bad. Senator pitchers gave more bases on balls than anybody else, more home runs than any staff except Baltimore's (despite spaciousness of Griffith Stadium playing area), made more wild pitches and more balks. They were even softest touch in league for run-scoring sacrifice flies. Part of blame for this aromatic record could be attributed to fielding. Neither Lemon nor Sievers is first-class outfielder, Runnels is not first baseman by trade, Yost is slowing up some at third. Shortstop and second were passed back and forth among half dozen aspirants last year, and that fluid situation was never really solidified, though Jerry Snyder and Herb Plews were about best to appear at short and second. The trouble is, Senators have no one who makes the big pitcher-saving play.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Most of young players on this squad have been up and down a few times between parent club and minor leagues. Lyle Luttrell and Jose Valdivielso, for example, have both played long stretches at short with Washington. Both have looked brilliant at times, awful at other times. Outfielders Carlos Paula, who hits hard but who doesn't seem too interested in baseball, and Dick Tettelbach, who cares very much but who doesn't hit hard, were in camp for another look. Outfielder Neil Chrisley is genuine rookie, and hopes are high he'll repeat with Washington good year he had with Louisville. Management also fondly hopes that some of young pitchers (Abernathy, Brodowski, Clevenger, Hyde, Wiesler, for example) will do something to improve mound situation. Bonus Player Jerry Schoonmaker, who played on U.S. baseball team in 1955 Pan-American Games, is hope for future.
THE BIG IFS
It seems reasonable to assume that established players such as Lemon, Sievers, Yost, Runnels, Stobbs, Byerly and the three catchers will do about as well this season as they did last. This is cheering, but not cheering enough because both Kansas City and Baltimore, Washington's immediate rivals, seem considerably improved over last season. In order for Senators to stay with Athletics and Orioles, pitching (which in Washington is spelled I-F) absolutely must get better. Pedro Ramos and Camilo Pascual, two Cuban right-handers who have endeared themselves to Dressen, are being counted on very heavily. Last year Ramos gave up 5.27 runs per game, Pascual 5.86. The Senators have reasonably fair hitting, but they're not a six-run-per-game team by long shot. Q.E.D.: Ramos and Pascual had best improve. Then, too, young pitchers must take up more of slack.
Two years ago, as he began his first season as manager of Senators, Dressen talked so optimistically about potential his sharp eyes had spotted in his young players that he conned at least one New York baseball writer into picking Senators to finish well up in first division. The Senators finished last, the writer's enthusiasm vanished, and so did Charley's. This season Dressen is working just as hard, but the scales seem to have dropped from his eyes. No longer does Dressen feel bullish about his boys. On paper club is not improved. Prospect: eighth place.
There are only 29,023 seats to choose from, but due to the Senators' decade in the second division, fans are few and good seats plentiful. So buy a ticket and take your pick: you'll enjoy a fine view of the game.
Griffith Stadium is an old and fairly obsolescent park, but it is well cared for and never wanting for fresh paint. Broken seats are promptly repaired. Ushers are courteous, accept tips but do not demand them. The concessions, operated by the Washington ball club, serve best quality hot dogs but slip in soft-drink department by loading paper cups with shaved ice. Because of District of Columbia liquor regulations, beer is sold only in first few rows of left-field bleachers, aptly called "the beer garden." A 1957 innovation and one all big league clubs should imitate: a 28-page yearbook-program for 15¢ replacing old-fashioned scorecard.
Stadium is located close to center of Washington at 7th St. and Florida Ave., N.W. Although only a mile from the main hotel district, a stranger will need radar if he is driving, what with confusions of Washington traffic patterns. There is room for 1,800 cars in small lot. And since parking space is limited, best way to stadium is by bus (five lines) for a quarter or by cab for 60¢. If you insist on driving, you'll have one consolation: there is hardly ever any real traffic problem after games, due again to the understandable scarcity of Senator rooters.
Ticket information: NOrth 7-4936
PAST PERFORMANCE CHART
runs batted in