For 60 minutes last Saturday some husky gentlemen of West Point entertained rivals from Princeton in the rough, ready and eminently body-contact sport of lacrosse, a game whose fervent followers (see page 22) proudly describe as the most rousing, demanding spring sport of all. Princeton Tigers won 5-4 in the 17th renewal of their rivalry with Army
SUMMERS TO THE DECK
Thanks to an anonymous, overheated fan who flung an empty whisky bottle out of the upper stands at Briggs Stadium, felling Umpire Bill Summers, Detroit took an early-season lead for the uncoveted title of the rowdiest audience in the majors. Meanwhile, Detroit's Tigers lost three straight games
LEW BURDETTE TO THE MOUTH
The old spitball controversy, after simmering on baseball's hot stove all winter, boiled up again in Milwaukee with second day of the season, may boil all summer
I go to my mouth, I'm up around the peak of my hat, I'm wiping the perspiration off my forehead or out of my eyes. But I never intentionally wet the ball."
So said Lew Burdette, Milwaukee's six-hit, 1-0 victor over Cincinnati. But Birdie Tebbetts, Cincinnati manager, thought otherwise last week.
"A spitter is the easiest pitch in the world to spot," he said. "It's very fast, as fast as a fast ball, and it breaks sharply and unpredictably. It doesn't spin. And I would like to say from the point of view of 16½ years of catching in the major leagues that Burdette is just about the best spitballer I ever saw."
Cincinnati's general manager, Gabe Paul, filed a protest with the National League, and interestingly enough the protest asked primarily for clarification of Rule 8:02, which says, in substance, that a pitcher is not allowed to apply any foreign matter to the ball. In his letter to Warren C. Giles, president of the National League, Paul said, "Birdie has made it clear that he is not protesting the use of the spitball itself. He is protesting the violation of the rule, which could lead to use of the spitball."
This points up a peculiar ambivalence in the major league attitude on the spitball. Among many major leaguers the feeling is growing that the spitter should be returned to the arsenal of the bedeviled pitchers. It is an easy pitch to throw and one which might restore the balance between offense and defense which has tipped heavily to the attack with the rabbit ball and the power hitter. That it is thrown, and regularly, by some pitchers was made clear when Preacher Roe admitted it in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (July 4, '55).
In the wake of Roe's admission, a retired umpire, Bill Stewart, admitted that he knew Preacher was throwing it at times. But he seldom did anything about it. "The umpire has to call for the ball, but the chances of his detecting anything are nil," said Stewart.
Maybe the best way to end the spitball rhubarb would be to bring back the spitball.