Parke Carroll ran the minor league Kansas City ball club for the New York Yankees; when Arnold Johnson brought the major league Athletics to town, he retained Carroll as his general manager. Lou Boudreau was a Boy Manager at 24 with the Cleveland Indians, won a world's championship and later managed the Boston Red Sox. He's intelligent, articulate, occasionally irritable. His coaches are Harry Craft (the old outfielder), Bob Swift (the old catcher) and Spud Chandler (the old pitcher).
ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S ATHLETICS
Willingness to trade (spurred by unwillingness to stand still with eighth-place club) has brought Athletics cluster of players who could combine to move team to top of American League's lowly triumvirate (Washington, Kansas City, Baltimore). From Tigers have come Ned Garver and Virgil Trucks, once 20-game winners, and Gene Host, bizarre rookie with erratic fast ball and fine move to first base. From Yankees have come Outfielders Irv Noren and Bob Cerv, Shortstop Billy Hunter and Second Baseman Milt Graff, Pitchers Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Mickey McDermott. These 10 weren't what teams eying the pennant needed, but for team eying sixth place they might be just the ticket. Oldtimers on A's (which means those who were there last year) include Vic Power, Harry Simpson and Hector Lopez, three very capable ballplayers, and superstitious Lou Skizas, the Chicago Strong Boy, who hit .314. Gus Zernial, onetime American League home run champion, is also around, and so are two fairly good catchers in Charley Thompson and Hal Smith. And despite trades, two best pitchers on staff may prove to be two who were best last year (according to earned run averages): Tom Gorman and Wally Burnette. Alex Kellner, big left-hander, and other faintly familiar names still decorate pitching roster.
Lack of power hitting to support Harry Simpson hurt A's badly last year: they couldn't score runs. To illustrate, team batting average was a big eight points higher than second-place Indians, but run total nearly 100 less. Addition of Cerv, who hit better than .300 for past two years in part-time role with Yankees, may help here. Of course, along with being second to last in scoring runs, A's were second best in giving them up. In a word, pitching was terrible but, again, winter trading appears to have helped. Infield is very fluid. Power and Lopez, at first and third, are good anchors, but Hunter—while always a bright hope—has never really come through for anyone at shortstop, and A's may continue with weak-hitting Veteran Joe DeMaestri. Graff and Curt Roberts (a second baseman who had a fling at Pittsburgh) are both good fielders but puny hitters. Worst thing about team is that it is not a team at present, but merely a collection of players. If Manager Boudreau could find sparkplug (such as he himself was in his playing days) chances are things would be lot rosier for Kansas City fans.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
In most training camps new faces are usually a novelty of sorts, but in West Palm Beach this spring it was the old faces that stood out in relatively lonely splendor. More than two-thirds of likeliest-looking pitchers, two-thirds of the catchers, a quarter of the infielders and about half the outfielders were someplace else a year earlier. Some of new faces came in during season last year. Of others—the very new faces—hope rides most heavily on pitchers, notably ex-Yankee Morgan, the Plowboy, and on large Robert Cerv.
THE BIG IFS
Mob of players obtained from the Yankees have got to produce, or there'll be trouble in Kansas City. But if either Graff or Roberts can play major league ball at second, Boudreau will have gem of an infield, and this in turn will help shaky pitching (for pitching, while improved, is still aspen). Yankee pitching cast-offs' must do well, and so must Bob Cerv, who is 31 now and has been giving promise of becoming big, big hitter for half a dozen years. He'd better fulfill that promise, because A's need runs-batted-in power badly.
If team plays way it did year ago, it will stay in last place, and the love Cowtown folk have had for A's will turn to loathing. Carroll and Boudreau gambled this year when they gave up their name pitchers, Art Ditmar and Bobby Shantz, for big parcel of players from New York. If Ditmar and Shantz star for New York and big parcel turns out to be bust, Carroll and Boudreau will be left holding the remnants of the bag. But, in truth, team seems greatly strengthened by all the players they've garnered from the various deals.
Rebuilt two years ago, Municipal Stadium is one of the cleanest, most attractive parks in baseball. Seats are bright turquoise color instead of usual dark green; ushers are courteous, and tipping, although accepted, is not required. Rest rooms (14 of them) are clean and un-crowded; concession stands are handy, serve excellent food (including grilled hot dogs) at average prices. Park permits a car or two containing invalids to park inside the stadium outside the low wall that runs along the left-field foul line.
Stadium is located at 22nd St. and Brooklyn Ave. only 1½ miles from downtown area; it can be reached by express bus (35¢), taxi or car in about 15 minutes, although 30 may be needed when Yankees are in town. Parking space for 3,800 cars within two blocks ($1); traffic flow is smooth and no special police are required. Suggestion: many fans drive their cars to an originating point for an express bus, park there and take a bus to the park. Because of crowds taxi service after games can be inadequate.
Most of the 30,611 seats are good, but watch out for first five rows of field boxes (lower deck) during midsummer days; it is quite possible to be baked alive. Only customers with 20-20 vision should occupy seats in upper deck. All others good and choice depends only on personal preference.
Ticket information: HUmboldt 3-9911
PAST PERFORMANCE CHART
runs batted in