New Vice-President-Treasurer John Holland and new Manager Bob Scheffing combined to bring a pennant to Los Angeles last year. Holland, veteran of Cubs' minor league organization, will try to get the horses for Scheffing, a former major league catcher, to direct on field. Both are calm, relaxed individuals who can get tough when the occasion arises. Coaches are also new. Fred Fitzsimmons will handle pitchers and first base, George Myatt directs third-base traffic, and Ray Mueller oversees bullpen.
ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S CUBS
Cubs are loaded in the middle of their infield. In Ernie Banks they have skilled fielder and most powerful hitting shortstop in majors. Only reason that smooth-fielding Second Baseman Gene Baker might not team with Banks again is that he may be more valuable to club at third. Development of Rookie Casey Wise at second gives Manager Scheffing this pleasant option. Wise has shown he can make all the plays and fits in nicely as double-play partner with Banks. In reserve is outstanding bonus shortstop, Jerry Kindall. Catching, very weak last year, is stronger with addition of Charlie Silvera, longtime sub for Yogi Berra, and Ray Katt, a competent veteran. Team is set in right field where husky ex-Dodger Walt Moryn made strong showing last year with a .285 batting average and 23 home runs. Pitching staff is young and could be surprisingly good. Veteran Bob Rush is mainstay, ably backed by ex-Cardinal Tom Poholsky, Fast Baller Don Kaiser, Starter-Reliever Jim Brosnan and bonus sensation of last year, Moe Drabowsky. Turk Lown (nine wins, 16 saves last year), Sophomore Vito Valentinetti and diminutive lefty Jackie Collum form strong bullpen.
Outfield, except for Moryn, was weak last year. This year it is in state of flux as Manager Scheffing has tried all sorts of combinations. The most prominent bids have come from members of last year's Los Angeles outfield—Jim Bolger and Bob Speake. Both are young and good defensively but did not show they could hit topflight pitching consistently in previous trials with Cubs. Mix in Jim King, a .249 part-time player last year, and Rookie Bob Will, and you have a questionable major league outfield. At first base Dee Fondy, a .300 hitter his first two years with club, has been bitter disappointment. Unless one of Scheffing's first-base experiments (Bob Speake and Walt Moryn are among them) works, Cubs are stuck with Fondy for another season. On other side of infield, third-baseman Ray Jablonski will lose as many games with his glove as he wins with his bat.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Brightest young face with Cubs this spring has been rookie Second Baseman Casey Wise. An outstanding fielder who makes double play look easy, he hits sharply to all fields. If only one of the rookie right-handers—Dave Hillman, Bob Anderson and Dick Drott—sticks, the line of good young pitchers coming up in past few seasons will be extended. Ray Jablonski was obtained in winter trade with hope that his once potent bat would add some punch to team. In complete reorganization of catching staff, Charlie Silvera came from Yankees, Ray Katt from Cardinals and Cal Neeman from minors. Couple of more trades added depth to pitching staff when Cubs acquired Tom Poholsky, a control pitcher who has never lived up to his potential, Jackie Collum, only left-hander on staff, and Elmer Singleton, 36-year-old veteran of minor leagues.
THE BIG IFS
Outfield still remains the biggest question mark. If Speake or King or Bolger can hit this time around, team will be strengthened both offensively and defensively. Dee Fondy could ease Ernie Banks's hitting burden considerably and settle first-base situation if he finds his lost batting touch. Having already proved himself in the field, Rookie Casey Wise must still show he can hit major league pitching. If he does, club will have depth in infield. Catching could be strong if some of the Yankee winning ways stuck to Charlie Silvera and nine years in bullpen haven't corroded his unexplored talents.
Under direction of new general manager John Holland Cubs made more trades and player shifts than any other club in major leagues this winter, after finishing in last place in 1956. Team is undeniably stronger, most obviously behind home plate, but there are some really glaring weaknesses in the outfield and on both ends of infield. Without the addition of proved talent, it will take more than desire and Ernie Banks to give home-town fans a better finish. Right now it still looks like another dreary summer in last place.
One of prettiest parks in majors, with its vine-covered outfield walls and clean, neat interior. No light towers mar skyline. The dozen or so rest rooms are adequate (unless larger crowds start coming out to the park). Andy Frain ushers are briskly efficient and are never tipped.
Don't drive to game, since there are only four small parking lots (capacity 250 cars) and it costs from $1 to $2. Three types of public transportation are easily available at 20¢ a ride. Best one is Clark Street trolley from the Loop. Stay on to Addison and you're right there (20-25 minutes). There is no problem getting away after a game with so many choices of transportation.
Best place to sit is behind home plate in upper deck. All the spacious box seats are angled toward diamond to eliminate stiff necks, and all are fitted with wide, comfortable chairs. You will get sun for a few innings in lower boxes, but after that only in bleachers. But whole ball park can get uncomfortably hot during Chicago's midsummer days. Something different is a section of left-field grandstand where play-by-play broadcast can be heard while watching game. Ask any usher where it is. Moving ramp will take you to upper deck in right-field stands. It carries 8,000 fans an hour.
Ticket Information: BUckingham 1-5050
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